Minority populations are more likely to participate in clinical research activities when they are encouraged by trusted authority figures, such as family physicians or pastors. One such pastor and author, Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, decided to use his popular YouTube channel to broadcast information about the COVID-19 vaccine to dispel myths and to encourage his followers to take the shots.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has raised issues about trust among many Americans who are hesitant or unwilling to take the vaccine. The issue of trust is especially problematic among minority communities that have been harmed in historic medical and research incidences. People also are skeptical of a vaccine that was developed in record time, considering most vaccines take 10-15 years to make it to market.
The first month of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout among frontline healthcare workers was a reality check to the human research world after many people said no to the vaccine. There are several reasons for vaccine hesitancy, including distrust in the accelerated vaccine development process.
More than 350,000 people said they were interested in volunteering for a COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States, and only 10% of those who signed up are Black and Hispanic. Actual trial enrollment among two companies with large COVID-19 vaccine trials in the U.S. includes only one in five volunteers who are Black and Hispanic.
Several months of data from the COVID-19 pandemic showed that African Americans and other people of color were disproportionately dying from the disease. Disparities in how COVID-19 affects minority communities highlight long-standing difficulties in achieving health equity in U.S. society, including clinical trials.
Trying to strike a balance epidemiologically, and perhaps politically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for people wanting to leave home and attend gatherings as COVID-19 cases generally have plateaued nationally.