As the first COVID-19 vaccine begins to be distributed and recent polling data show communities of color are more distrustful of the vaccine, Black and Brown New Jersey leaders are committing to being vaccinated and urging communities of color to do the same.
In a new column on NJ Spotlight News, Newark-based non-profit Project Ready Executive Director Shennell McCloud confesses to having doubts herself: “I didn’t know a single Black person who was enthusiastic about being vaccinated, and I had some skepticism of my own.”
While recognizing the “legacy of distrust built over generations of mistreatment of Black and Brown bodies by the U.S. government and the medical community,” McCloud commits to taking the vaccine as soon as she is eligible and concludes that “we owe it to ourselves and our communities to listen to the scientists, look at the data, and decide whether this vaccine is safe on the merits, not the past.”
The column quotes several Black and Brown New Jersey leaders of color who also commit to taking the vaccine.
“The distrust of the medical community is rooted in very real and terrible history, but our community faces a serious dilemma. We are the most likely to contract and even die from this virus. That is why we are instituting an information campaign that will provide our residents with data and facts about the vaccine and how it can help save lives and protect our families, and when the vaccine becomes available I will be in line to take it when my time comes.” – Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
“This pandemic has had an especially devastating effect on the African-American community. People of color have been hospitalized at higher rates than whites, and tragically, have experienced higher mortality rates. I will definitely look to receive the vaccine with confidence, as soon as it is available to me based on the priority of distribution laid out by scientists and public health officials.” – State Senator Troy Singleton
“We are at the collision of two pandemics, one fast and one slow. The fast one is coronavirus….The slow one is systemic racism, which has been with us for over 400 years.” – Dr. Chris Pernell, public health physician in Newark
“As leaders, we must set an example and ensure that our communities are not left out.” – Passaic County Freeholder Theodore Best
“It would be a mistake if more members of communities across our state opt out of taking the vaccine.” – Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp
“We have a lot of work to do to educate the community about the vaccine. That’s definitely a challenge if we are trying to end this pandemic. I’ve talked to my doctors and I’ve done a lot of research on the topic of the COVID-19 vaccine. The minute it becomes available, I plan to take it.” – Newark Councilman Anibal Ramos
“The lead [NIH COVID-19 vaccine research] scientist is a person of color, which has done a lot to move the needle for me. This vaccine, along with our faith, may be the only weapon we have against this virus to save people’s lives.” – Rev. Dr. Ronald Slaughter of Saint James A.M.E Church