Communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Despite that fact, many people in Black communities are skeptical of a vaccine. On Tuesday, Doctor Anthony Fauci joined Black doctors, health equity advocates and leaders at Howard University for a discussion on how to quell those fears.
“First understand the reasons and empathize with the reasons for the mistrust,” he said.
Fauci answered a series of questions during the discussion put on by BlackDoctor.org called “Making it Plain: A Conversation with Dr. Fauci and the Black Community.”
Ambrose Lane, Jr., a health equity advocate, cited what recent studies have shown.
“They indicated a reluctance by the Black community to participate in vaccine trials or to take the vaccine once is it available,” said Lane. “Why should Black people trust this process?”
Fauci said Black and brown communities are often skeptical about whether the vaccine is safe and the speed with which it was produced.
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“The speed has nothing to do with compromising safety or scientific integrity,” he said. “I, myself, will be perfectly comfortable taking the vaccine and I would recommend it to my family.”
Historical events like the Tuskegee syphilis experiment – which purposefully deceived hundreds of Black men – haunt some Black people to this day. It’s why Fauci stressed the significance of having Black scientists such as Dr. Kizzmekia "Kizzy" Corbett leading the team.
“The vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact,” he said.
As for getting the vaccine to high-risk populations, it’s up to state and local health authorities to ensure equitable distribution. But Fauci said it doesn’t hurt to apply pressure.
“Community activists, the people in the community, should hold the feet to the fire of those individuals who are going to be responsible for the distribution to make sure that it is fair and equitable,” said Fauci.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.