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History causes hesitancy

Past injustices create concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

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For some African Americans, concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines stem from historical events.

According to Timothy Groover, MD, MBA, president of Physician Alignment at Baptist Health, African Americans in the United States have faced decades of injustice in health care. Additionally, minority communities are more likely to experience barriers to medical care, many of which arise from a lack of economic opportunity.

African Americans have also long-suffered from instances of medical racism in the United States. Probably the most notable example is the Tuskegee Study.

From 1932 to 1972, hundreds of African Americans with syphilis were enrolled in a study during which treatment was withheld. The purpose was for researchers to observe the natural course of the disease. Many participants became seriously ill, and in some cases, died.

Events like Tuskegee shook the confidence in science and medicine for many African Americans; this unsavory history remains a reason some African Americans are reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine or even go to the doctor for routine checkups. As of March 17, 2021, around 280,000 African Americans in Florida had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to nearly 3 million white people, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

Dr. Groover maintains the COVID-19 vaccine provides everyone a shot at a healthy future.

“African Americans have been hit especially hard by COVID-19; we are three times as likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than our white counterparts,” Dr. Groover said. “Getting a vaccine helps protect our community and is essential to ending this pandemic. These vaccines are safe and if you have reservations about taking one, please reach out to your physician and ask questions.”

When Lynn Sherman, director of Social Responsibility and Community Engagement at Baptist Health, first was offered a COVID-19 vaccine, she initially hesitated, thinking about the past. In the video below, she explains why she decided to face her fears head-on and get a shot.

At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines as they become more widely available to the public, visit For questions about COVID-19 symptoms, call 904.302.5050.

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