the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine to start arriving in states Monday morning

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COVID-19 has disproportionately ravaged Black communities across America. Black Americans are three times more likely to die from the virus than Whites and more than 48,000 have died since the beginning of the pandemic. But as the U.S. moves closer to approving a coronavirus vaccine, public health officials are working to confront the long history of racism and mistreatment of Black Americans to sell them on a vaccine.

Studies suggest the Black community is “less inclined” to take the vaccine than any other racial group, according to a Pew Research Center study published this month. Of the 12,648 adults surveyed, only 42% of Black Americans would consider taking the vaccine, compared to 63% of Hispanics, 61% of White adults, and 83% of English-speaking Asian Americans who would.

The Black community’s distrust of the vaccine and the nation’s medical establishment is rooted in a long record of mistreatment. The late 1900s were defined by medical breakthroughs in the nation’s scientific community, but many of these experiments and discoveries were made at “the expense of Black people’s human dignity,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, co-founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19. “There is a history of insults that have occurred in health care for people of color.”

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a woman suffering from cervical cancer, went to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment. When doctors took samples of her cancer cells, they discovered that her cells doubled at a rapid rate unseen before, making them ideal for cancer research. Since 1951, these “HeLa” cells, named after the first two letters in her first and last name, have been used to make advances in biomedical research.

But Lacks’ cells were used without her knowledge or consent and her family failed to receive any funds from the companies that used the “HeLa” cells to make medical discoveries.

Another infamous example: the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a 1931 study conducted by the Public Health Service and…

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