Biden’s COVID-19 task force chair believes confidence in vaccine will grow

EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith urges Americans, particularly Black Americans, to get vaccinated. She cites 4,000 people are dying daily

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Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the incoming chair of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Equity Task Force, gets her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Friday. She is working hard to encourage the minority community to step up and get vaccinated.

All this in the midst of growing concerns in the Black community and specifically Back health care professionals not wanting to take the vaccine. The data is showing vaccine numbers are not as hoped for.  

Read More: Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant

Appearing via video link, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to chair his COVID-19 equity task force, speaks during a news conference with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dr. Nunez-Smith admits there are people who are choosing not to take the vaccine.

“We’re making progress on this. I think people are gaining confidence really, as they see people like Vice President-Elect Harris get her vaccination really as they see people in their own social networks get the vaccination,” she says.

“I think it is building that we are seeing movement on that and for some people, it is going to take a little bit more time. And I think that’s why we have to make sure that people have the information that they need to make the choice about vaccination.”

Dr. El-Bayoumi, M.D., F.A.C.P., founding director of the Rodham Institute of George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences tells theGrio that when it comes to vaccine hesitancy, “with all the structural and racists elements withing our system including our health care system that is not unexpected.”

It was not a coincidence that a few weeks ago Vice President-Elect Harris chose a Black hospital in South East Washington, D.C. to have her vaccine televised. 

Registered Nurse Patricia Cummings administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the United Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Read More: Kamala Harris receives COVID-19 vaccine, urges trust in minority communities

Another issue that has cropped up is legitimate concerns about short- and long-term effects of these vaccines that are still in clinical trials that will last for about two years. As a counter to not getting vaccinated, Dr. Nunez-Smith reminds the public that “we lose 4,000 people a day” to COVID-19. 

The concerns are real as Black people in this nation have battled with disparities in healthcare and have been used as guinea pigs for some medical trials and research. The most popular experiment that is front of mind for most Black people in this country is the Tuskegee syphilis experiment that has been well documented in history books.   

There are also concerns with the efficacy of one of the Pfizer drug, which has to be refrigerated at an extremely cold temperature of 94 degrees below zero. There are questions over how many doctors’ offices have refrigeration units that can handle that temperature to keep the medicine.

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Medical worker Michelle Chester shows a Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine before giving it to nurse Sandra Lindsay at Long Island Jewish Medical Center January 4, 2021 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Shannon Stapleton-Pool/Getty Images)

People are not rushing to get vaccinated and President-Elect Joe Biden proclaimed to the press on Thursday night that the current vaccination rollout is a “dismal failure.” The vaccine rollout is compounded and people are putting off taking it. There is a cause and effect that is in play. Since the targeted number of people getting the vaccine shots is not being met, emergency use authorization for the medicine is going to waste in some instances. Some days there are calls for anyone who wants a shot to get one because people are simply not showing up.

The Washington Post on Friday reported that there are more problems as the coronavirus vaccine reserves were already exhausted when the Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access.

Read More: Charles Barkley: NBA players should skip vaccine line because of higher tax bracket

Dr. El-Bayoumi emphasized that the Trump Administration’s rollout of the vaccine “is just as inept and incompetent and chaotic as everything. That is par for the course.” 

At some point, the vast majority of Americans will have to be vaccinated to cut into the number of infections and deaths. Dr. Nunez-Smith says, “I want everybody who can get vaccinated to be vaccinated. That is how we get safe, because we know at the end of the day, it’s about the people in your social community and your network.

She adds, “So, if we have a national average of 80 percent, but in our neighborhoods and communities are 50 percent, it’s just like nobody’s been vaccinated.”

Mask wearing is still a must for all until the numbers of infections are knocked down and out.

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