Wisconsin health officials work to reconcile vaccine distrust

Local News

Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Health experts say that in order to return to life as it was 70 to 75 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated. But as Kasey Chronis explains, one health system in Wisconsin is also working to reconcile vaccine distrust within the state’s black community.


UW health, two weeks ago, became the state’s first healthcare system to receive and distribute doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Now they are also at the forefront of engaging with historically marginalized communities.

Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, UW Health Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer said, “We do need to acknowledge there has been a lot of wrong. In the black community certainly, the mistrust goes way back to the way healthcare research used African Americans for many different things.”

Bidar-Sielaff says one of the most well-known, the Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis in black men that began in the 1930s, lasting for decades.

Bidar-Sielaff said, “The black men just did not receive the treatment and they were followed to see what would happen. Really an unethical way of not providing treatment that is needed.”

Bidar-Sielaff was recently invited to join a Facebook live with the foundation for black women’s wellness, based in Madison.

Lisa Peyton-Caire, CEO and founder of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness said, “It’s imperative to understand that work, to know what it means for us as we prepare to make decisions about the vaccines.”

Peyton-Caire says they’re working to provide the community factual information to help them determine what’s best for their families. 

“The more conversations there is, the more understanding on both sides, both from the health system side and the community side about good information, how to make good decisions with scientifically based information,” said Bidar-Sielaff.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Community Calendar