Minority communities historically have had mixed feelings about vaccinations, due to events in history such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

In this "study", which took place in the 1930s, 600 African American men were studied on the effect of untreated Syphilis. They were divided into two groups-- 399 without the disease and 201 with the disease. During this time, they were promised medical care and other benefits to participate in the study. They were never told that they would not be treated for the disease. Throughout a 40-year period, dozens of men died while their families and countless others were infected, leaving a lasting effect on the African American community. 

Not surprisingly, while African Americans are considered a medically high-risk group because of underlying conditions, and make up 25 percent of positive COVID-19 (coronavirus) patients and 39 percent of total COVID deaths, many are skeptical of the vaccine.

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As an African-American family, all with high risk medical concerns due to either our age or having an underlying condition, my family -- my father, Robert, 64, my mother Dee, 58, and me, 20 -- all had different views on the vaccine. But, getting it was a priority in our household.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, my family has done their part by staying home, social distancing, and wearing a mask. However, the vaccine was another story.

Initially, my parents were concerned about taking the COVID vaccine. They decided to wait until others got the vaccine so that they could see its side effects. With the number of positive patients and deaths rising and new virus variants discovered, my parents decided that getting the vaccine outweighed the risks. As a result, once the news broke that New Jersey was expanding its protocols to those with underlying conditions, my mom added our names to the list.

“Be prepared to wait,” my mom told me as she explained the vaccine-registration process. My mother registered with the New Jersey Department of Health’s portal and added our names to the list of numerous vaccine sites to see which would have availability first. Since I am currently attending college in Washington, D.C., my mother suggested that I also stay up to date on the status of the vaccine in the District, in case I was able to get it quicker there.

It took about three weeks to secure an appointment for the vaccine to be administered to our family in New Jersey.

We were called about our vaccine appointment the day before the shot was to be administered to us, and were told if we couldn’t make it we would go back to the bottom of the list. The morning of our shot, we arrived at the vaccine site at 9:50am and were asked to complete paperwork and wait our turn. The site we went to was also administering the COVID test, so the wait was long. After almost an hour and a half, we got the shot.

“It took three seconds,” my father exclaimed. After we received the shot, we were told to sit for 15-20 minutes to make sure we didn’t have an adverse reaction. The nurse informed us that our arms would hurt for one or two days and that we had to return for our second dose in 28 days.

In the days after being vaccinated, I did have pain in my arm, as the nurse explained to us. For my dad and me, our arms hurt the majority of the first day but my mom’s arm did not hurt until the second and third day. Other than the pain in the arm, we had no reactions from the first shot. However, we have been warned that the second dose will be different as that’s when most people experience flu-like symptoms as a side effect. We are all scheduled to return for that second dose in a couple of weeks and look forward to having the protection afforded to us against the virus.

If you want more information about how you can get your vaccine in New Jersey click here.

Editor's Note: Ariana Cobb is Burlington County resident who is currently a Junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is an intern for TAPinto Bordentown and TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville. 

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