Burning Spear News
"Between a rock and a hard place" The All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project answers your COVID-19 vaccine related questions
"Nurse prepares to vaccinate children" by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
When my children were little, I hesitated to get them vaccinated. I was scared to pump their little bodies with anything that might potentially cause them harm.
Although my mom is a medical doctor and I am a physicist by training, I have never completely embraced or trusted the colonial medical or scientific establishment. Why? For the same reason I don’t trust the colonial school system to correctly educate my children. And I reject the idea that African people should ever call the police to solve problems in our community.
It is because of what our collective history has taught us and what our lived experiences show us. It does not make sense for the colonized to put our trust in the colonizer or his institutions. We know that when the colonizer tells the truth; it’s usually the result of telling a double lie and when he appears to solve a problem, you better believe there’s something in it for him.
As a scientist and revolutionary leader in the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), it is my job to lead the All-African People’s Development & Empowerment Project (AAPDEP). AAPDEP has the responsibility of winning African scientists, medical professionals, agriculturalists, teachers and other skilled workers to contribute our skills to the African Liberation Movement.
From the beginning of the pandemic, AAPDEP has been providing the African Nation with our own plans, protocols and strategies for combating the colonial coronavirus. Among other important initiatives, our International Kreyòl telehealth program has been providing Africans around the world with COVID-19 information and education through free virtual appointments with our licensed medical providers.
Our monthly webinar series, “Ask the Doctors,” was initiated in April 2020 as a way to make the expertise of African medical professionals available to our people and where our health-related questions and concerns on a variety of topics could be answered.
In order to answer the question, “should black people take the COVID-19 vaccines?” we organized an “Ask the Doctors” episode in November of 2020 that explained the science and development of the current mRNA vaccines and discussed the history of colonial medicine as it relates to Africa and African people.
So that we could establish our organizational position on the covid vaccines, we assembled our AAPDEP Medical Advisory team for a vaccine think-tank. Some of those included in this process were AAPDEP Medical Programs Coordinator, Dr. Loretta King, two members of our volunteer telehealth team, Nurse Midwife Dr. Lauren Arrington and Dr. Adonica Franklin, AAPDEP Mental Health Programs Coordinator Michelle Odom, Project Black Ankh Medical Volunteer Coordinator FoFeet Alkebulan, RN, and Antibody Discovery Automation Engineer, David Randolph.
When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. After the infection, the immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease. The body can then act quickly if it encounters the same germ again.
Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. This type of infection, however, almost never causes illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce antibodies that can quickly fight off possible future infection.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two-dose shots based on a new vaccine technology that uses mRNA (messenger RNA). To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. With mRNA vaccines, they teach our cells how to make a protein—in the case of COVID-19, it’s a spike protein—in order to trigger an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the process can be standardized and scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods of making vaccines.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently reported the findings of a study conducted during the winter COVID-19 surge in the U.S. The study included 3,950 essential workers who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The study showed that both vaccines were extremely effective in the real world, reducing infections by 90% in fully vaccinated people.
The vaccines appear to not only help people avoid getting sick and being hospitalized, but also help prevent asymptomatic infections in which people never develop symptoms.
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected—not just those who are immune.
It is estimated that roughly 70 to 85 percent of a population will need to be immune in order to reach herd immunity. If herd immunity is not achieved through a swift, world-wide vaccination campaign, the virus will continue to spread and new variants will make it even more difficult to contain.
The U.S. government's preoccupation with getting Africans vaccinated, therefore, has nothing to do with protecting our people’s health. It is about achieving herd immunity which is necessary to safeguard the health of the colonizer population itself. It is also about making sure that enough of us are able to get back to and stay at work, an absolute requirement if there is any possibility of reviving the battered capitalist economy.
After having thoroughly discussed the available science and safety data for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, each member of our Medical Advisory Team was asked to answer the question, “would you take these vaccines?” The question was answered yes by all.
What is AAPDEP’s position on the COVID-19 vaccines?
All COVID-19 vaccines are new, and while current data suggests they are safe, there is no long-term safety data available.
For now, our position is that African people should make the decision on whether to take the vaccine based on a risk/benefit analysis and assessment of our personal health. Some important things to consider are age and any underlying health conditions we may have that can place us at higher risk for COVID-19 complications—should we become infected. For many of us, the risk of complications from the vaccine appears to be much lower than the risk associated with covid infection.
If you decide to take the vaccine, you may have some side effects. The most common of which are pain or redness in the arm where you get the shot, tiredness, headache, muscle ache or fever. All of these are actually normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days—some people have no side effects at all.
Whether you choose to take the vaccine or not, it is important that we all take steps towards living a healthy lifestyle which includes eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, engaging in regular exercise, getting plenty of rest and taking other steps to build our immune systems.
We recognize that, for now, our people remain trapped by the colonial relationship imposed on us by the U.S. government and its foul, profit-driven social system and medical establishment.
When it comes to the question of the covid vaccines, Africans are clearly stuck between a rock and a hard place because we have not yet achieved the capacity to independently verify the vaccine data or create our own medicines and vaccines as the revolutionary Cuban government and people have done.
No matter who or where we are, we must join or deepen our commitment to the African liberation movement—the Uhuru Movement—leading the way toward a future of self-government and self-determination.
African medical professionals and scientists around the world must join AAPDEP, under the leadership of the APSP, so that our people don’t have to live in fear of the colonizer’s plans or medicine—and so we don’t have to second guess the decision to get our babies or ourselves vaccinated because we will create and control our own medicines and systems of health.
Africa’s future in African hands!