More than 63,000 frontline healthcare workers in Illinois have been vaccinated for COVID-19 in the last week — on top of thousands more healthcare workers in the city of Chicago.
It’s still early days for distribution of the vaccine, but state, local and federal officials are trying to get people to trust the COVID vaccine long before they’re eligible to receive it in the spring.
In a media appearance in Chicago on Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that in the coming months, leaders in the Black and Latino communities must be public about their trust in the vaccine in order to get buy-in from the larger population. Adams says he’s personally spoken to icons like entertainer Steve Harvey, who has committed to getting vaccinated publicly.
Adams, who is Black, said many African Americans mistrust government and the medical establishment because of historic mistreatment by both.
Many alive today remember the Tuskegee Experiment, in which hundreds of Black sharecroppers in Alabama were denied treatment for syphilis for decades beginning in the 1930s…so scientists could study the effects of the disease.
Adams also had a message for undocumented immigrants:
“The federal government is placing no restrictions whatsoever //on who can and who cannot get this vaccine based on documentation status,” Adams said. “And Dr. Ezike and Dr. Arwady confirmed to me that no one will be asked for an identification when they come in to get vaccinated.”
Adams was referring to Illinois Department of Public Health director Ngozi Ezike and Chicago Department of Public Health Director Alison Arwady, with whom he appeared Tuesday.
Black and Latino Illinoisans have been hit hardest by COVID-19, with both groups contracting and dying of the virus at disproportionate rates.