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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A group of 60 Black members of the National Academy of Medicine signed on to a New York Times op-ed published Sunday urging Black Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Why it matters: Black communities in the U.S. have borne a disproportionate brunt of the effects of the pandemic. Data also now suggests they are being vaccinated at far lower rates than white Americans in the states that collect such information, writes Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens.

The backdrop: Health and public officials across the country are combating long-held mistrust of health care systems by Black Americans to reassure them the vaccines aren't clandestine experiments, but necessary to combat the spread of the virus, writes Axios' Russell Contreras.  

What they're saying: "It should be reasonable to expect that all citizens can rely on their government and health institutions to protect them. But for many Black Americans, trust in the government does not come easily," write the authors. "Far too often, our health has been ignored and even abused in the name of science."

  • "Disinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines has pervaded social media, feeding on long-held and absolutely warranted distrust of health institutions in Black communities. The lies are an assault on our people, and it threatens to destroy us."

Yes, but: "These vaccines were tested by teams of outstanding scientists in many different countries — including Black scientists who worked on vaccine development and served on review panels for the Food and Drug Administration."

  • "Numerous Black public health professionals are leading the efforts to ensure that the distribution of the vaccine is fair and equitable."
  • "We have reviewed the research and feel confident the research was done correctly."

The op-ed was written by Thomas LaVeist, dean of Tulane University's medical school, and Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

  • It is signed by 58 other people, including scientists, doctors, nurses, other health care professionals and public health experts.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Supreme Court: California can't ban indoor worship, but can keep 25% cap

U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court late Friday night lifted some restrictions on religious services in California spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, ruling the state cannot ban churches from holding indoor services, but can cap services at 25% capacity.

Details: The court ruled in two cases where churches sued the state over COVID-related restrictions, also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban on indoor singing and chanting.

Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe

A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.

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