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ST. LOUIS – There’s a great deal of concern that people in minority communities will skip the vaccine because of well-documented, horrific chapters in American history.

People in the Black community have different reasons for not getting the vaccine. Some, like Keith Graham, are worried it was rushed.

“I feel like it’s not proven enough. It’s not something that’s tested and it doesn’t make sense to get it yet,” he said.

Others cannot help but remember history, like the disgraceful Tuskegee experiments on Black patients, and the decades-long policies of forced sterilization of women of color.

Sharon Biddle-Ferrell said she will get the injection but she cannot forget the past.

“That’s that lack of trust; because you want to feel the government has your best interest but sometimes you’re not sure,” she said.

Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo, an infectious disease expert at Washington University Medical School, said that mistrust is valid.

Hlatshwayo added that health care workers need a plan to encourage minorities to take the vaccine. She offered four steps to facilitate increased vaccinations in the Black community.

  1. Health care workers should listen to patients’ concerns.
  2. Acknowledge what’s happened historically.
  3. Apologize for what doctors and nurses did in the past.
  4. Inform people about the vaccine as plainly as possible.

“Meet people were they’re at be accessible be personal and be real,” Hlatshwayo said. “For me and my family, the vaccine is what I’m going to do.”

Edward Quarrells and his wife have six children and one grandchild. He believes life for Black people has improved since those horrible medical studies.

“I’m ready,” he said. “My concern is more for my family. That’s why I feel I need to take the lead.”

Quarrells said he plans to get the shot first and then several weeks later if everything is okay, he will encourage his family to get it too.