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New BET Tyler Perry Special Focuses on COVID-19 and the Black Community

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What happened: Tyler Perry is addressing concerns the Black community has about the COVID-19 vaccine in his new BET special, “COVID-19 Vaccine and the Black Community, A Tyler Perry Special,” which airs on Thursday night on BET and BET Her at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Perry told CBS This Morning that he was skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine at first, but shared, “Once I got all the information, found out the research, I was very, very happy.”

In the special, Perry receives the Pfizer vaccine on camera. Perry will also discuss concerns and fears about the COVID-19 vaccine with Carlos del Rio, M.D., executive associate dean at Emory School of Medicine, and Kimberly Dyan Manning, M.D., professor of medicine at Grady Health System, both doctors of color.

If you look at our history in this country, with the Tuskegee experiment, Henrietta Lacks and things like that, it raises flags for us as African American people. So I understand why there’s a healthy skepticism about the vaccine. — Tyler Perry, CBS This Morning

The Frontlines: As Perry mentioned, Black people have many reasons to mistrust the medical community due to the Tuskegee experimentHenrietta Lacks and medical racism in general. But as Black people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, getting the vaccine can offer critical protection against the deadly virus.

  • According to a November 2020 CDC report, Black people are 1.4 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people and 2.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 complications than white people.
  • A CNN analysis found that white people are getting vaccinated at higher rates than Black and Latino people.
  • Researchers did try to be mindful of the racist history in past medical developments, and COVID-19 vaccine trials included a diverse group of patients, including Black patients.

A Mighty Voice: Black contributor Maya Lorde wrote about why Black people, including members of her family, are skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine. “I asked them if they will take the vaccine, and both said no. They said that they are leery of vaccines and that you never know how it is going to affect Black people. This scares me. I want them to live as long as humanly possible, but I am scared they will catch the virus and die.” You can submit your first-person story, too

Other Things to Know: Medical racism is very much alive, and it affects Black people as they seek healthcare for COVID-19 and other health conditions. You can read these articles below to learn more about how medical racism affects the Black community.

How to Take Action: You can watch Tyler Perry’s special at 9 p.m. ET/PT on BET or BET Her. You can also watch Perry’s interview with CBS This Morning below.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Sgt. Michael Connors – 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Originally published: January 28, 2021
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