Bermuda to tackle vaccine hesitancy among black population

Bermuda’s premier David Burt says his government will do all it can to tackle vaccine hesitancy among the island’s black population.

Premier of Bermuda David Burt

Burt made the statement following the revelation that only about 14 per cent of people registered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are from the black community.

This is in comparison to whites who make up 63 per cent of those registered.

Health Minister Kim Wilson noted that the data is not surprising and correlates with a study conducted in November 2020, which suggested black Bermudians were reluctant to take the vaccine.

Bermuda’s population is largely black but most of the people registered to receive the vaccine are white.

“When we did the omnibus survey in November we noticed there was a higher percentage of persons within the black community that were expressing vaccine hesitancy and not wishing to be vaccinated certainly not in the initial stages,” said Wilson.

In analysing the disparities between the racial groups, Burt said hesitancy by blacks was the result of a “complex legacy issue”.

“Black people have been used over history for experiments – as recently in America as the 1970s, where low-income black women were given unwanted sterilisations. That is historical,” said Burt. 

“But the fact is we have seen – whether it is in regard to our death numbers or in regard to the persons who are more likely to be impacted by the coronavirus – we see that, without question those persons are predominantly persons who are black or, as they say in America ‘communities of colour’. Those are the persons who in the exact same way are hesitant to take the vaccine which will actually protect them,” added Burt.

According to Burt, the ministry will be using a variety of channels to encourage vaccination among hesitant groups, as it plans to inoculate 19,000 individuals with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

According to a 2010 census, the Bermudian population was estimated at 50,565 of which 54% are described as black, 31% white and eight per cent multiracial.