Community torn over COVID-19 vaccination

New YorkHealth
Collaborator: Rahkiya "Rocky" Brown
Published: 03/17/2021, 8:44 PM
Edited: 03/25/2021, 1:00 PM
(BINGHAMTON, NY) Following the one-year anniversary of WHO's official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, a vaccine to help put an end to the virus is good news for many. But actually getting the vaccine has become a very controversial topic, even here in Broome County, where the vaccine is readily available. Demographics of those who have been fully vaccinated paint a clear picture of racial disparity nationwide. According to the latest stats, Race/Ethnicity information is only available for 53.5% of vaccination data at the CDC. Of those fully vaccinated, 6.6 percent identified as Black, Non-Hispanic. That is compared to 68.4% of fully vaccinated people who identify as white. 2019 data from the US Census Bureau shows the US population is 13.4 percent Black and 60.1 percent white (not Hispanic or Latino). So, why are Black people not being vaccinated at a rate proportionate to their share of the population? We spoke with several members of Broome County’s Black community about what is affecting their decisions to receive the vaccine. All have asked to remain anonymous. Some expressed an urgency to receive the vaccine due to their age or profession. Others said they are too afraid of the unknown and that they consider receiving the vaccine to be a huge risk. A local teacher said, considering we have lost over 530,000 Americans to the pandemic, she feels everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. She chose to receive the vaccine. “I trust science and the medical experts who study viruses for a living and following their guidance is the only way to slow and eventually stop the spread of this deadly virus.” “I am a single parent and a teacher getting ready to go back into the school building after a year of remote learning. I need to protect myself and those around me to the best of my ability.” Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo designated hundreds of vaccines for the Broome County area. County officials expressed desire to prioritize getting Black and brown communities vaccinated. But, this has raised red flags for some minorities who don't trust the government. County officials justified their urgency with statistics that showed the pandemic has affected minorities at a greater rate than whites nationwide. One Binghamton native told us she is a senior citizen who has mixed views regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. “Initially, I was completely against it. Listening to the very real facts as to what the government has done to people of color such as experimental drugs, sterilizing black women, disabling them from having children, et cetera.” Read more about the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” here: Read more about the forced sterilization of Black women here: However, she said, she recently had a change of heart and will be getting vaccinated in the near future. “I never thought the virus would last this long and kill so many people”.
Grocery store employees have not had the option of working from home throughout the pandemic, as they are considered essential workers. We talked with a the manager of a local grocery store who told us she will not be getting vaccinated, despite being on the frontlines of the virus. “I feel like there is just not enough information out on the vaccine. We don’t even know what’s in it and I also feel like the government is just pushing it on us in order to get the economy back to normal.” “Most of the people I talk to that have gotten vaccinated are only doing it because they want the world to open back up again. We are already seeing the effects. Movie theaters are opening again, restaurants are back up to 75% capacity, et cetera. Which of course, I want the world to open again as well, but it’s not worth putting unknown chemicals in my body.” For more information about what is inside the COVID-19 vaccines, click here: With so many opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines created to stop it, the potential of required vaccination only adds to the controversy. New York lawmakers introduced State Assembly Bill A11179 in December, which would require COVID-19 vaccines for all residents who are able to safely receive it. But don’t expect that idea to be pushed at the federal level. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, said last year he would “definitely not” support a nationwide mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine. “You don't want to mandate and try and force anyone to take the vaccine,’” Fauci said in August. “We've never done that. You can mandate for certain groups of people like health workers, but for the general population you cannot.” What are your thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine? Send me an email at


This story has no comments yet