By Lori Lee
NDG Contributing Writer
Despite hopes of putting away our masks and returning to normal life, the Delta strain has now changed the narrative. According to Cameron Webb, Doctor of Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia, while those vaccinated are protected against serious illness, they can now transmit the Delta variant, which carries 1,000 times the viral load of the original Covid-19 virus. As Webb explains, inadequate vaccination rates, in failing to reduce the number of places where the virus can live, have failed to reduce its spread.
Webb points out that skepticism appears to be decreasing within the black community, as vaccination rates grow more proportional to the overall population. In fact, statistics indicate it is white males who now tend to avoid the vaccines. These trends are associated with a drastic decrease in case and death rates within the black community. Hispanic populations remain disproportionately affected, holding 28% of cases despite that the community encompasses only 18% of the total population.
KERA reports Facebook has released the results of a survey noting a 10% increase in vaccine acceptance. The top reasons listed for refusal were concerns over vaccine side effects and a lack of trust in either the vaccines or government. KERA points out that these are the same types of fears initiated by the major anti-vaccine propaganda found on social media.
Despite a claim that vaccinations could be associated with infertility, existing data demonstrate no such risks. The Associated Press reports, Rebecca Dutch, Chair of Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry at University of Kentucky, clarifies that the vaccine protein which retired British doctor Michael Yeardon proposed as similar to a crucial placenta protein, is, in fact, not similar enough to affect fertility.
As reported by Michele Benoit-Wilson, an Ob. Gyn prominent in the black community, none of the existing data demonstrate increased risk of infertility or miscarriages. She also points out that because pregnancy compromises a mother’s immune response, vaccination is not only important to the mother’, but also crucial to a child’s immunity, as evidenced by higher levels of antibodies found in the children of mothers vaccinated prior to giving birth.
So that crucial antibodies can be passed to the child, Benoit-Wilson urges mothers not to wait until after their child is born to receive the vaccine. She also explains that it is safe to get the vaccine at any time during pregnancy, including the first trimester.
Other disproved false narratives include a claim that COVID-19 was never isolated, making a vaccine impossible, as reported by the Associated Press. Similarly, and reported by NBC News, a Kennedy Center film using a Tuskegee Syphilis study supports incorrect claims that the Covid vaccine is part of a conspiracy aimed at black Americans.
In the face of abundant false information, Dr. Cameron Webb urges our communities to seek substantive data and credible sources. As Dr. Rachel Villanueva iterates, the National Medical Association created its own Covid Task Force specifically for the black community to investigate vaccine safety and efficacy, and based on science and data, this reputable organization recommends the vaccines are, in fact, safe and effective. Whether due to complacency or mistrust, Dr. Villanueva explains, those holding on to a sense of security due to their youth should be aware that hospitalizations linked to the Delta variant are now predominant in those in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
Despite the fierce determination of scientists in developing our highly advanced vaccines, vaccination rates are below that required to reach herd immunity, as explained by Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS). While vaccine rates needed for herd immunity have increased due to the highly infectious Delta variant and will continue to change as new variants emerge, as DCHHS explains, we will only see herd immunity when new Covid cases stop surfacing.
In the meantime, the failure of some groups to accept the vaccine is keeping us from returning to normal, which especially makes life hard for our medical professionals, who are reportedly again working long hours in overflowing hospitals.
We are taught to love our neighbor. We must then get the word out and help EVERYONE get protected. For information about the vaccines, visit GetTheVaccine.dshs.texas.gov or call (833) 832-7067. The Centers for Disease Control are also recommending indoor masking, as reported on PBS News Hour. Credible sources, such as the Washington Post, are also reporting experts are now recommending higher-quality masks, such as an N95, which should be well-fitting.
Lori Lee holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy