Our elders remember the horror of the Tuskegee Experiment. They’ve seen the ill ramifications of going to the hospitals from their parents and grandparents. Many of our grandparents still have the mindset of “don’t trust the doctor.” Their caution is understandable, but things are changing and our beloved seniors (and younger generations) are passing from diseases that can be prevented.
Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th U.S. Surgeon General, says that Black people run a higher chance of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, but have the lowest vaccination rates than any other race. She remarks that a a disease like pneumonia is preventable, but you have to get vaccinated, especially older Black people who are at an increased risk. In addition to vaccination she says there are other measures you can take.
“Besides getting a vaccination, there are ways you can prevent pneumonia. Wash your hands, talk to your doctor and make sure you are protected,” Dr. Benjamin says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 900,000 adult Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia each year, and 5-7 percent succumb to it. It’s estimated that 67 million adults haven’t been vaccinated against the disease.
Surgeon General Benjamin discussed this issue at the most recent National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists Annual Convention and Career Fair in Washington, D.C.
BlackDoctor.org sought out the expertise of one of our trusted medical professionals for the truth about vaccinations. Dr. Clarence Lee is an author, speaker, physician-executive, and entrepreneur. He serves as a Center Medical Director for U. S. HealthWorks an occupational medicine and urgent care service provider in Sacramento, California. Dr. Lee shares his insights on why vaccination is essential for our lives.
BlackDoctor.org: What vaccinations are a must have for African Americans? Why is vaccination necessary?
Dr. Lee: For the majority of the public the answer is: All of them. There has been a substantial amount of research supporting vaccination. Many of the diseases that we now have the privilege of being vaccinated against, people died from in the past. They are necessary to avoid epidemics. By being vaccinated you protect yourself as well as your community. By not being vaccinated, when you go to public places, like amusement parks, swimming pools, schools, playgrounds, you put people in your community at risk.
BlackDoctor.org: Why don’t more African Americans get vaccinations?
Dr. Lee: There has been a lot of circulating information on the Internet pertaining to vaccinations and risks to the African American community. Which is why, I think, articles like this are so important. We cannot go backwards on this issue, we cannot reject the very science that has saved lives. I’ve studied many of the conditions we vaccinate against. I’ve seen the pictures and the read the death tolls. I’ve treated patients that weren’t vaccinated. These diseases were devastating, so much so that we took the best minds and millions of dollars to develop cures. Now, we are privileged to live in a country where we have a choice of getting vaccinated. There are many places in the world where they do not have that luxury.