In 2014, the state’s public officials assured the residents that their water was safe to drink. It wasn’t. Now, with the coronavirus vaccine rolling out across the country, some Flint residents are wondering whether or not it’s safe to take. Hesitancy is particularly high in some Black communities, which have a history of being discriminated against in the US health care system (and beyond).
Omar Jimenez traveled to Flint to talk to residents about how the water crisis has impacted their views on the coronavirus vaccine.
CNN’s Go There team asked readers to submit questions about what it was like reporting in Flint: How are the residents coping and why does their skepticism persist? And what’s in store as the vaccine rollout continues?
Can Flint residents drink safely from the tap yet? What is the residual impact on children and the younger generation?
In short, yes by federal standards. Does everyone do it? No. In 2018, then Gov. Rick Synder said there was no more need to stick to bottled water after years of steady decreases of the lead and copper level from above 15 parts per billion in 2016 (a federal threshold that requires action) to below 5 parts per billion by early 2018.
While the water is safe by federal standards, the small amount of lead is still lead and is part of why so many people still choose not to drink right from the tap, including many children who have grown up since 2014 with this practice feeling commonplace. But more immediately, the American Journal of Public Health found that after the city made the decision to switch its water source to the Flint River at the start of the crisis, “The percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels increased after water source change, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Water is a growing source of childhood lead exposure because of aging infrastructure.”
The city currently gets its water from Lake Huron.
Bottom line, if kids are not feeling the physical repercussions of this, the mental ones still exist. I interviewed a man who told me his young son asks if it’s safe to drink from the water fountain when he visits other states. This is purely an instinct borne out of growing up in Flint over the last 10 years.
This is a perfect setting to…