Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said he had been vaccinated against COVID-19 as the team began spring training Thursday.
But the 71-year-old Baker, who is Black, understands the reticence of some in his community to get the vaccine because of America’s history with medical studies on Black people without permission.
Baker was only convinced to get the vaccine after seeing a television interview with a Black doctor connected to one of the vaccines who guaranteed this would not be “another Tuskegee Experiment.”
The Tuskegee Experiment was a study of syphilis conducted on Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, from 1932-72. It provided no treatment for the disease and was done without the informed consent of its participants.
Baker, the second-oldest manager in the majors, also noted that getting the vaccine was important for him because his age makes him more susceptible to severe complications from the coronavirus.
He received the second dose of the vaccine about two weeks ago before he travelled from his home in California to West Palm Beach, Fla. to begin his second season with the Astros.
‘It’s their decision’
Though Baker decided getting the vaccine was right for him, he won’t try to change the mind of people who are “staunchly against” getting it. That includes his elderly mother.
“It’s their decision,” he said. “My mom will be 90 on March 1 and she’s not going to get it. She refused to get it.”
He won’t press those who are strongly against getting it to change their minds. But he is comfortable with encouraging people who aren’t sure about it to be vaccinated.
“So, I’m urging people to try to sort of take care of themselves,” he said. “And I know it’s a kind of touchy situation. A lot of people don’t trust the vaccine… you do what you’ve got to do. But my suggestion was for those that are on the fence, get the vaccine.”