A group of eight notable Black doctors wrote a “love letter to Black America,” in an effort to encourage Black people to get the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
In a report by NBC News, an August poll by Axios/Ipsos showed that 72% of Black respondents said they would not immediately go get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community around the nation. Black people in America are more likely than white people to contract the virus and have complications.
Experts believe the over representation in hospitalizations and complications can be linked to inequality in healthcare access that started way before the pandemic came to America.
Less access to adequate care, making up the majority of the essential workforce, and a complicated history with the medical field make the emerging coronavirus vaccines a troubling subject for many Black Americans.
Just recently, the American Medical Association labeled racism as a threat to public health after centuries of oppression and limited access to adequate healthcare.
The doctors’ letter acknowledges the exploitive history of the medical field in the Black community stating that their colleagues “must do more to earn your trust –– now and in the future.”
“We ask you to join us in participating in clinical trials and taking a vaccine once it’s proven safe and effective,” the doctors wrote. “We know that our collective role in helping to create a vaccine that works for Black people –– and that we trust –– has an impact on our very survival.”
The letter goes on to say, “Respect for our Black bodies and our Black lives must be a core value for those who are working to find the vaccine for this virus that has already taken so many of our loved ones.”
The doctors who penned the letter are in “key decision-making roles from the lab to the clinic to the virtual boardroom” and include:
- Leon McDougle, president of the National Medical Association
- David Carlisle, president of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
- Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University
- Martha A. Dawson, president of the National Black Nurses Association
- James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College
- Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of Morehouse School of Medicine
- Randall Morgan, president of The Cobb Institute
- Reed Tuckson, a founding member of the Black Coalition Against Covid
The group encouraged the community to continue taking safety precautions and persevere through nearly nine months of dealing with the pandemic.
They ended the letter with affirmations of love and calls for the community to keep them accountable. “We affirm that Black Lives Matter. We love you. And as Black health professionals, we have a higher calling to stand for racial justice and to fight for health equity,” they wrote. “We plead with you to wear your masks, continue social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding indoor events until vaccines are widely available.”
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