Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that it’s up to local authorities to ensure all members of vulnerable groups, including the African American community, receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
“I recommend that the African-American community, particularly in those areas where they clearly have a say, where you have the fundamentally minority population to hold the feet to the fire of the people that are doing that and make sure that the prioritization is according to the need,” he said in an interview for TheGrio with Entertainment Studios and Allen Media Group CEO Byron Allen.
According to the CDC, Black Americans face a higher risk for contracting and dying of Covid-19 when compared to white Americans. The Latino and Native American communities are also highly vulnerable to the infectious disease, which has claimed over 262,000 lives nationwide.
The nation’s top disease expert told Allen that with promising news about Covid-19 vaccinations, there will ultimately have vaccines available for everybody. However, he noted that it’s possible such vaccinations may “slip between the cracks” if local officials and distributors aren’t held accountable for correctly providing the doses.
In addition to distribution challenges for when the coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available, Fauci and Allen addressed skepticism within the Black community about the in-the-works treatment. While Black Americans aren’t alone in their concerns about the vaccines, given “mixed signals that have come out of Washington,” Fauci said the group’s skepticism can be attributed to “shameful” treatment from health officials.
“That’s not easy to forget. So we have to got to reach out to the community and explain to them that we’ve done everything we possibly can to make this a transparent and independent process,” he added.
While it may not be the only solution to gaining the trust of vulnerable communities, Fauci added that representation can play a great role in instilling comfort and confidence in the vaccine.
“You don’t want only a white guy in a suit like me going into the community and say, ‘Trust me, I’m from the federal government’,” he quipped. “You do really want people who are committed, who are really respected in the community.”
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