Steve Insky of NPR speaks with Reed Taxon, one of the healthcare professionals behind the Black Union for COVID-19. They want the black community to accept the future COVID-19 vaccine.
Steve Insky, Host:
The public health announcement, available online, describes itself as a love letter to Black America.
(Sound bite of archived recording)
Unified Man: Dear Black America, we love you. Make sure it’s Black Lives Matter.
INSKEEP: The screen displays images of black doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The YouTube video is from the Black Union for COVID-19, doctors and nurses, and academic leaders. Dr. Reed Taxon is a former Health Commissioner in Washington, DC.
Reed Taxon: One of the things we’ve noticed about our response to this COVID pandemic is the level of distrust and misinformation that has plagued our response to this virus. As a result of that distrust and misinformation, many Americans, especially colored Americans, are reluctant to follow the guidance provided and are very reluctant to actively participate in the clinic. .. Vaccine testing and safe and proven vaccine acceptance testing.
So what we are trying to do with this effort is, unfortunately, to speak directly to this fundamental problem of distrust and false information that leads to premature death and preventable misery and suffering.
INSKEEP: As we all know, distrust of professionals is a universal problem today, so consider distrust of science, distrust of doctors, especially distrust of vaccines. Any kind of person can show that behavior. But what does it look like especially in the color community?
Taxon: One of the things I had the opportunity to do in my career was to become a Public Health Commissioner in the District of Columbia during the HIV epidemic. And there, it turns out that it is very difficult to break through the legacy of the Tuskegee syphilis experience and other serious insults, and it is very difficult to push our message around proper action. It’s amazing to me that in 2020, years later, the same problem is in my head.
Sure, this is a national issue, but in the African-American community, it’s combined with something like the Tuskegee experience and the effort that brought thousands of colored people into them. And it’s a particularly exacerbated problem Declaring that the streets of the city and their lives are important. When you have that level of anxiety, it causes serious health problems.
INSKEEP: Of course, when talking about people who say Black Lives Matter, it’s a reference to the police. When you say the Tuskegee experience, do you explain it for those who might just be the name?
Taxon: In the 1930s, after assessing human syphilis, there was a trial deciding not to treat them, but just follow and see what happens to the course of the event. Despite the treatment, these victims did not have access to it. And I was just watching these people get sick, get sick, and die. This heritage is so exorbitant that it unfortunately remains prominent today.
And it’s a kind of symbolic problem combined with other elements of society, and too many people of color distrust the vaccine process, the clinical trial process. And as a result, their health deteriorates and we pay for it.
INSKEEP: I noticed this public service announcement and this love letter to Black America. It’s a black face one after another. It’s an African-American scrub-doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
Taxon: That’s right. And the reason is that in the black community, first of all, there are those who understand how many African Americans are in leadership, authority and power, and can be assured. I think it’s because there are too few things like Tuskegee will never happen again, so the director of the NIH National Institute of Cardiopulmonary Blood (ph) is an African-American man. One of the most important basic sciences about vaccines in Tony Fauci’s lab is an African-American woman.
Other black doctors are very closely involved in the FDA’s review process before making final decisions on safety and efficacy. So we ensure that we monitor everything in the tent carefully, protect their interests and apply only the best science to decisions that affect their lives. I’m trying to make the community absolutely understand.
INSKEEP: Is it useful for doctors and nurses to live in history and to know the history that may be in the minds of others, the patients they brought to the room?
Taxon: I was well trained as a doctor. One of the hallmarks of my training is listening to patients, connecting with them, their history, culture, ideas, values, spirituality-everything that makes them unique and energetic. Therefore, it is imperative that we know this history and that all healthcare professionals understand what your patients are bringing to the clinical arena. Healthcare professionals need to understand how and why people make decisions to help them make the decisions that are most appropriate for them.
INSKEEP: Thank you very much, Dr. Reed Taxon.
Taxon: Thank you.
INSKEEP: He is one of the organizers of the Black Coalition for COVID-19.
NPR transcripts are created on the deadline in a hurry. Verb8tm, Inc., NPR Contractor, created using a proprietary transfer process developed by NPR. This text may not be in final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR programming is audio recording.
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