A national campaign led by the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative, a coalition of experts, tackled the hesitation. This summer, a short-form documentary including descendants of the men in the Tuskegee study was added to the campaign.
When Deborah Riley Draper, who created the short-form documentary, interviewed descendants of the Tuskegee study, she was struck by how shrouded it was in myths and misconceptions, such as the false claim that the government had injected the men with syphilis.
“The descendants’ message was clear that African Americans are as much a part of public health as any other group and we need to fight for access and information,” she said.
In Macon County, Ala., which has a population of about 18,000 and is home to many descendants of the Tuskegee trials, about 45 percent of Black residents have received at least one vaccine dose. Community leaders, including those who are part of a task force that meets weekly, attribute the statistic, in part, to local outreach and education campaigns and numerous conversations about the difference between the Tuskegee study and the coronavirus vaccines.
For months, Martin Daniel, 53, and his wife, Trina Daniel, 49, resisted the vaccines, their uncertainty blamed in part on the study. Their nephew Cornelius Daniel, a dentist in Hampton, Ga., said he grew up hearing about the research from his uncle, and saw in his own family how the long-running deception had sown generational distrust of medical institutions.