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KCRW: Black Angelenos’ Vaccine Hesitancy Is Understandable But They Must Get Vaccinated, Pleads Black Physician

KCRW host Chery Glaser recently spoke with Cedars-Sinai pediatrician Kyle Monk, MD, about vaccine hesitancy in the Black community and her personal experience with the COVID-19 vaccine as a Black doctor.

Monk told Glaser that many Black Americans distrust the healthcare system because of historical abuse of their community, such as the Tuskegee experiment, the infamous U.S. Public Health Service 40-year study of syphilis in Black men that withheld lifesaving treatment. Suspicion of the medical establishment lingers among Black people, and some are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a result.

“I completely understand the hesitancy, but I also understand the science behind [the COVID vaccine]," Monk told Glaser. "I can explain it in a way that makes sense."

When dealing with vaccine-hesitant patients, Monk relates that she encouraged her family to get their shots. "I made my parents get vaccinated and my sister who is pregnant and breastfeeding get vaccinated because that is what I know is important to protect my nephew and family members," Monk told Glaser.

She said the pandemic has been hard on a lot of the doctors who have had to put their personal lives on hold and make sacrifices for the common good.

"I get emotional thinking about all the moments that I missed with my family this year," Monk told Glaser. "After getting my vaccine, I was definitely ready to hug my nephew."

Monk explained how devasting it has been as a pediatrician trying to comfort families who are grappling with the effects of COVID-19.

"There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I don’t get an email from a patient or a message from a patient sharing that either their child has contracted COVID or one of their family members has contracted COVID and asking for advice," Monk said. She hopes her pleas for vaccination resonate with people of color.

Click here to listen to and read the complete interview from KCRW.