As the world navigates the global distribution of the vaccine against the coronavirus, there are teams of scientists and professionals working behind the scenes to ensure equity in protection.
For Black Americans, the coronavirus pandemic has had an undue burden on our community. Data shows that Black people in the United States are three more times as likely to contract the coronavirus and suffer complications after becoming infected.
Our community has been ravaged by the death directly and indirectly linked to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.
Racism and discrimination within the medical system has played a role in fueling justified skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccines and wariness of medical facilities who have historically carried out bias towards us.
Addressing these concerns is no easy feat given the power of memory and lived experience and the reality that scientists are still learning about the virus’ effect.
Here are a few of the Black professionals helping to bring the COVID-19 vaccines and accurate coronavirus pandemic information to Black people across the nation.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett
A native of North Carolina, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is leading the National Institute of Health’s coronavirus vaccine research. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and has been working on the research that led to the development of the Moderna vaccine for years.
She’s also been speaking out against misinformation surrounding the virus throughout the development and distribution process.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith is the leader of the White House COVID-19 Healthy Equity Task Force and also a board member of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board. She is also an associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale University.
With her work, Dr. Nunez-Smith has brought national attention to lagging vaccination numbers in Black communities across the country as well as the uneven burden the pandemic has caused historically marginalized communities.
Jane Hopkins, RN
Nurse Jane Hopkins joined the Biden COVID-19 Task Force in November 2020. As a 20-year nursing veteran, Hopkins brings a breadth of experience to the team. She specializes in mental health, concern for which has increased during the pandemic. Nurse Hopkins also served on the Washington State COVID-19 Task Force before joining the national board.
Dr. Thomas LaVeist
As Dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Dr. Thomas LaVeist leads research on health disparities and social determinants of health. Dr. LaVeist’s research “seeks to answer the question, why do African Americans live sicker and die younger than all other American ethnic groups,” according to his website. Dr. LaVeist along with Dr. Georges Benjamin co-wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on behalf of 60 Black healthcare professionals to urge Black Americans to get vaccinated.
Dr. Georges Benjamin
Dr. Benjamin has served as the Executive Director of the American Public Health Association since 2002. He previously served as secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In addition to co-writing the op-ed with Dr. LaVeist, Dr. Benjamin is known as a leader in emergency preparedness, West Nile virus, and mental health care. In 2016, former President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Benjamin to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.
The COVID-19 vaccines are starting to become available across the country, and the Black Information Network wants to know if you plan to get vaccinated. Have you already gotten the vaccine? And what are your thoughts on the vaccine? Let us know!
ClickHEREto take our survey. You can also take the survey on your cell phone by dialing #250 and saying the keyword RADIO SURVEY. You’ll have the option to receive a one-time auto-dialed text message from iHeartMedia.
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