Howard University President, surgeon urges Blacks to get vaccinated

Howard University President Issues a Vaccine Public Service Announcement: When The Time Comes, Get Vaccinated!

Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, a practicing surgeon and person living with sickle cell disease, has a message for Black America: When the time comes, please get vaccinated! As an essential health care worker, educator, father and person at high risk, Dr. Frederick decided to lead by example by producing a public service announcement (PSA) on the importance of getting the coronavirus vaccine. He was among the first to get a vaccine shot at Howard University Hospital, and he hopes his message will encourage others to do the same. Watch the PSA here.

“The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on communities of color, and that narrative won’t change until we take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from exposure,” said Dr. Frederick. “The vaccines that are coming to market are safe and have been proven to be more than 90% effective. However, we can’t get to the other side of this pandemic without you. Wear a mask, keep your social distance, wash your hands and, when the time comes, get vaccinated.”

Dr. Frederick has been on the frontlines of the pandemic in a variety of ways, including making the tough decision to close the University in March, spearheading efforts to set up COVID-19 testing sites in urban communities, co-chairing the Mayor Muriel Bowser’s ReOpen DC subcommittee to address equity and vulnerable populations, and actively speaking out to encourage more vaccine trial participation and, now, vaccination participation.

Nationally, African-Americans are almost three times as likely to die of COVID-19 as whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Washington, D.C., African-Americans have comprised 75% of the COVID-19-related deaths in Washington, D.C., while making up only 46% of the city’s population. Public health officials and academics are pointing to underlying health conditions for the severity of the virus in vulnerable populations.

The PSA, produced in partnership with Howard University’s television station, WHUT-TV; Howard University Hospital; and the Office of University Communications, features several essential health care workers sharing their personal reasons for getting the vaccine. As each person steps up to be vaccinated, they express their “why”: for family, to protect fellow co-workers and in honor of those who’ve lost their lives.

“I understand there is a lot of hesitancy in minority communities across the country when it comes to healthcare, but this is not an American experiment on Black people. The vaccine is a worldwide cure to end a global pandemic and set us on a path back to normalcy,” said Howard University Hospital CEO Anita Jenkins, who is featured in the PSA getting her shot.“We want the public to know that we trust the science, we’re leading by example and taking the vaccine will help us end this pandemic and the tragic loss of life.”

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