After a rapid increase in the COVID-19 vaccination rate, things have started to slow down around April of this year. On Friday, June 18th, Reuters News announced that the US would not meet its goal of a 75% national vaccination rate by the 4th of July. In the broadcast, it was argued that people had less of an issue with fear associated with receiving the vaccine. Rather, the largest barrier was access to the vaccine in rural areas. However, on June 22nd, Healthline.com published an article citing an expansive list of conspiracy theories still circulating on social media and various online forums.
Some of the myths range from the belief that the COVID-19 vaccine makes you magnetic, to the vaccine actually contracting COVID-19 in recipients. While these myths verge on scientific impossibility, there are some grounds for suspicion on behalf of the general public.
In one of our previous blogs, COVID-19 and the Black Trans Word, we discussed the historic precedent of exploitation in the scientific sphere. It’s really no surprise that people - especially People of Color - cannot find trust in the medical system. We have found that Black communities and Trans communities have had issues with receiving healthcare resulting after contracting COVID-19 or a lack of vaccine access in marginalized neighborhoods.
It would stand to reason that if the government was working to cause harm to the Black Trans community, and the vaccine was created by those who seek to control the minds of the population, then they would make it more accessible to marginalized people. This is contrary to the truth of vaccine distribution. The population of people who have received the vaccine disproportionately represent privileged communities in the timeliness of access and quality of healthcare.
Our Black Trans staff was a part of the 1A, Tier 2 group receiving the vaccines in late February as approved by the CDC. They received their second dose within 21 days after receiving their first. Since then, GHC transitioned to a hybrid work environment that allows for staff to work remotely part time.
Cloud Johnson, Jasmine Bright, and Ayotunde Khyree Ikuku all reported back on their second vaccine dose side effects. While Ayotunde did not experience fevers or body aches, Cloud and Jasmine did experience these side effects. Jasmine reported experiencing a gout flare-up shortly after the 2nd dose. Cloud reported a slight increase in fever and body aches. All reported fatigue.
We asked our Black Trans staff if they would go through the vaccination process again in hindsight, and they unanimously responded yes. They prioritize protecting themselves. “I would absolutely recommend getting the vaccine. I feel like I have a shield to protect me against catching it again or if I was to catch it again I’d have a better chance of fighting it off,” Jasmine explained among reports of likely worse symptoms following catching COVID-19 a second or third time.
Some of the myths the staff heard regarding the vaccine was that it was untested, or that it was intentionally created to cause catatonia. Ayotunde recalls, “I wasn’t really nervous about the general fear mongering over the vaccine, but I was naturally hesitant due to [the] history of medical malpractice with the Black community.”
Staff agreed that they would take a booster shot if it was scientifically shown to provide the support needed to maintain immunity against COVID-19. Cloud emphasized, “I hadn't heard about a booster shot, but I would still be willing to get a booster shot. Anything to keep myself protected.”
No staff had heard of the upcoming research on an at-home pill COVID-19 treatment, but Ayo and Cloud responded enthusiastically. Cloud remarked, “I hadn't heard about COVID antiviral medication but it could definitely be beneficial to folks that are worried about being in contact with folks often or if [they’re] worried about getting the vaccination.” Ayotunde added, “I have not, but am optimistic that a potential resource for people like that may exist if done correctly.”