Benjamin Thomas, MD, calls for COVID vaccine campaign in Black community

In a New York Times opinion piece, emergency medicine physicians Benjamin Thomas, MD, and Monique Smith, MD, rallied trusted voices in the Black community and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide a public health campaign encouraging Black Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccines when available.

Dr. Thomas, a physician with The Permanente Medical Group practicing at Kaiser Permanente San Leandro Medical Center in Northern California, and Dr. Smith of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, wrote that years of mistrust based on medical history such as the Tuskegee syphilis study may prevent Blacks from getting the vaccine to prevent the coronavirus.

“The Black communities most at risk in this pandemic are the least likely to take a potentially lifesaving vaccine when it becomes available to them,” the doctors wrote in the commentary, “How to Reassure Black Americans That the Vaccine Is Safe.”

Along with hearing from Black doctors, Drs. Thomas and Smith wrote that Black communities trust messages coming from Black-owned businesses, faith-based organizations, and community institutions. Recognizing the health disparities created by the pandemic, the doctors said additional focus and effort will be needed to close the vaccination gap within Black communities.

“Medicine has broken the trust of the Black community. Now it must work hard to earn it back,” Drs. Thomas and Smith wrote. “Otherwise, Black people will be further marginalized by our health care system and further victimized by this pandemic.”

Note: To read the complete commentary, visit the New York Times site.