Statement of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President & CEO…
After over a year, as COVID-19 disproportionately took the lives of Black and brown people, vaccines offer a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. But the same systemic racism that has caused health inequities for thousands of people of color now threatens to deprive these same communities of the vaccine we so desperately need to move forward.
In fact, with the percentage of white people across reporting states who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose being 1.6 times higher than the rates for Black and Hispanic people, that vaccine equity is the focus of National Minority Health Month. This year’s theme, set by the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), is #VaccineReady, an initiative to encourage and empower communities to:
- Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Share accurate vaccine information.
- Participate in clinical trials.
- Get vaccinated when the time comes.
- Practice COVID-19 safety measures.
As April comes to a close, and more vaccines are becoming available in the United States, communities of color must be prioritized to ensure we are not left behind in the rebuilding process.
“For a long time, we left the general public on the outside of vaccine development, until it was time to give them their shot. And that’s just unacceptable” Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black immunologist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and one of the lead COVID-19 vaccine developers, told Nature Journal. “Vaccines have the potential to be the equalizer of health disparities, especially around infectious diseases. I could never sleep at night if I developed anything — if any product of my science came out — and it did not equally benefit the people that look like me.
Efforts to uproot the legacy of exploitive medical practices, forge trust based in equity between communities of color and the medical community, disseminate accurate vaccine information, and make vaccines easily available to all communities are all key strategies to closing the vaccine gap.
And all of us can be part of the solution within our own communities by:
- Sharing our COVID-19 vaccination stories with our friends, family, neighbors and our social networks.
- Stopping the spread of misinformation by disseminating accurate, science-backed information to our social platforms.
- Assisting our friends, family and neighbors in obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine appointment if they are interested in getting the vaccination.