Stop Blaming Tuskegee, Critics Say. It's Not An 'Excuse' For Current Medical Racism

It's the health inequities of today that Maxine Toler, 72, hears about when she asks her friends and neighbors in LA what they think about the vaccine. Toler is president of her city's senior advocacy council and her neighborhood block club. She says she and most of the other Black seniors she talks with want the vaccine, but are having trouble getting it. And that alone is sowing mistrust, she says.

Toler says the Black people she knows who don't want the vaccine have very modern reasons for not wanting it. They talk about religious beliefs, safety concerns or distrust for former U.S. president Donald Trump and his contentious relationship to science. Only a handful mention Tuskegee, she says, and when they do, they're fuzzy on the details of what happened during the 40-year study.

"If you ask them what was it about, and why do you feel like it would impact your receiving the vaccine, they can't even tell you," she says.

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