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NPR: COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

Calvin Johnson, MD, a staff anesthesiologist at Cedars-Sinai, recently spoke with NPR reporter Allison Aubrey about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the Black community. The segment featuring Johnson aired during Morning Edition.

Aubrey explained that in the early days of the vaccine rollout, 52% of Black people said they would wait and see before getting vaccinated themselves. But, thanks to outreach by Black doctors, ministers and nurses, only 25% of Black people recently said that they do not plan to be vaccinated.

However, vaccination efforts in the Black community may be hampered by renewed mistrust after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paused use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a very small number of women who received the shot developed serious blood clots, Johnson told Morning Edition.

“There's fear, and there's anger. The thought is that they've been tricked. The vaccine came out too fast. It wasn't tested enough,” said Johnson, who has been doing outreach and vaccine education in the Los Angeles community. He added that while he has been making progress, the pause has led to more doubt among those most skeptical.

“I think that my job is going to be more difficult,” Johnson told Morning Edition. Having watched so many hospitalized people die from COVID-19, the message he tries to communicate is that it's critical to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Click here to listen to the complete story on Morning Edition.