Fear of the COVID-19 Vaccine Continues

Many healthcare workers, New York City firefighters, African-Americans and others still resist the vaccine

By James Bailey

VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, 423 E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010. The VA Hospital mostly services veterans. They recently started vaccinating veteran’s spouses and other outside agencies. Photo by: James Bailey


Some African-Americans in New York City still fear the Covid-19 vaccine due to America’s historic racist medical practices and being used as guinea pigs for painful and fatal medical experiments.  Other groups fear the vaccine’s potential long-term side effects while others reject the vaccine due to their recovery from virus.

Carlina Gooding, an Advanced Medical Support Assistant at the VA Hospital said, “Within the black community, many of us just don’t trust the government because we’ve been used many times for medical experiments and we don’t find out until we’re nearly dead or the next generation learns about what happened to you, like the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments and others.”

The Center for Disease Control’s website informs that though you are likely not to get sick after vaccination, doctors are still researching if the virus can still be spread after vaccination even if you have no symptoms.  They are also still learning how long the vaccine remains effective and can protect people.  With that, the CDC suggests that you continue to wear your mask daily as you would if you were not vaccinated to protect yourself and others.

Regarding fears and concerns about long term side effects, the CDC states that they and the FDA are “continuing to monitor safety, to make sure even long-term side effects are identified.”  They also state that they and ACIP will “address any problems detected.” And they will continue to compare the risk of infection with what is known about the vaccine.  So, in other words, the long-term side effects, if any, are unknown at this time.

“I just feel unsure with the government.  I don’t feel convinced and that’s scary.  I don’t feel like that’ll be the end of it, like if you take the vaccine you’re protected”, Carlina Gooding said.

On March 18, 2021, Bay News 9 reported that “breakthrough” cases are springing up across the nation.  These are cases where people have received both vaccines and tested positive 14 days after their second dose.  Hanna Rewerts, a 27 year-old home health worker received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine back on January 12th.  On March 18th while doing a routine Covid test for work she received a positive test result.  To be sure the results were accurate, she took a rapid test, which also came back positive.

Hanna’s mother and two other family members, also fully vaccinated received a positive Covid test result that week.  Now, isolating in quarantine per the health department’s recommendation, Hanna wonders if the vaccine is still effective in her system.  She also wants more research to be done on the vaccine.

According to Bloomberg, though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend pregnant women receive the vaccine because they are vulnerable to serious illness from COVID, there are a number of medical practitioners that fear infertility as a side effect.

Registered nurse Rosemarie Williams administers the vaccine to patients at the VA Hospital in New York City, but has not received the vaccine herself. She had the Covid virus back in November 2020 and checks her antibodies load regularly. She still has a significant amount. The second reason she has not vaccinated is because she is breastfeeding and says there is not enough info as yet on the effects of the vaccine for breastfeeding mothers. She knows other breastfeeding mothers who also refuse to vaccinate at this time.

Carlina Gooding said, “I just feel unsure with the government.  I don’t feel convinced and that’s scary.  I don’t feel like that’ll be the end of it, like if you take the vaccine you’re protected.  It’s like ok, but what about the long term side effects?  Why can’t someone answer that question?”

Carlina Gooding is an Advanced Medical Support Assistant at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System in Manhattan.

The Gothamist reports about a third of the staff has delayed vaccination.  Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of the city’s public hospital system said, “Hesitancy is understandable”.  Healthcare workers have been subjected to many modifications in guidance since the pandemic began.

Laura Soaries, a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) said, “In my 40 plus years of working in Health Care in New York City I have witnessed protocols change over and over again. A group of Doctors and/or Scientist will do a study/experiment and come up with whole new set of theories on how to treat specific illnesses one year and a new set will do a different study and or experiment and come up with a different set of theories in another year.”

“What makes it a workable form of therapy is the test of time once put in place. In other words we as medical professionals have used the therapy and it has shown positive results on the majority of patients over a certain period of time. There has not been enough time given or tests done to convince me that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. The human public are the tests and time will give data on how we react to the vaccine. That concerns me,” Laura said.

“How many times has science corrected itself? How many times has it turned out that there was some new wrinkle?” Katz said at a press conference.  Katz said that, for each person being vaccinated, another prefers to wait and see.

LaRay Brown, the CEO of One Brooklyn Health said many on her staff share the same mistrust found in the broader community, even if they work for the medical establishment.

According to USA Today, “Since the country’s inception, the American medical institution has subjected Black bodies to abuse, exploitation and experimentation.”

Marc Lucien, a patient care associate at Mount Sanai Hospital said, “First of all, even before the vaccine I heard that every time they have a new vaccine they want to test it on us black people, either somewhere in Africa, or somewhere in Haiti, or somewhere in those poor countries.  That alone concerns me.”

From reproductive procedures being performed on black women without anesthesia causing many mothers and their fetuses to die, to free Blacks in Philadelphia being urged to lend their bodies to help curb a yellow fever outbreak as it was believed they were immune only for hundreds to be injected and died, to Black women being sterilized without their consent, and more; African-Americans have earned the right to distrust America’s untrustworthy medical industry.

According to the NY Post, fear of the COVID has diminished amongst many healthy firefighters in their 30s and 40’s because they recovered after diagnosis.  They don’t feel the need to be vaccinated because they are younger and stronger and many have already bounced back from it.

NYU researchers said of the reluctant transit workers, “The main reason for not taking it or being unsure was the lack of trust in its safety. A sizable portion said they no longer trust anyone.”



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