Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), made a bold projection when he was interviewed on Tuesday on National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition. Dr. Fauci predicts the United States can begin to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 by the spring or summer of 2021 if at least 75 to 85% of Americans get one of the FDA-approved vaccines. Herd immunity can occur when enough of the population has either contracted the coronavirus and have developed immunity from COVID-19. Or, when enough people become immune to COVID-19 by getting one of the FDA-approved vaccines.
Herd immunity will not be achieved if Americans are too afraid to get the vaccine due to concerns about vaccine safety and reported side effects. Some of the most common side effects reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include allergic reactions, facial paralysis, fever, headaches, chills, achy joints, and body rash (FDA, 2020). The federal government, local and state government agencies, and stakeholders will be rolling out communication campaigns, to help educate the public and address safety concerns.
If we want to get back to enjoying life without masks and social distancing, we need to consider getting one of the approved vaccines. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to convince African-Americans to get one of the approved vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. African Americans have valid reasons to distrust the medical community when it comes to clinical trials and vaccines. The Tuskegee syphilis study is widely recognized as one of the reasons many Black Americans distrust clinical trial research. However, the stakes have never been higher with a collapsed economy, school closures, unemployment limits, and more than 308,908 deaths in the United States from COVID-19.
African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and higher deaths, when compared to the total population (CDC, 2020). It is extremely important for these populations to consider getting one of the FDA-approved vaccines. If you have concerns about getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, I highly recommend taking some time to learn more about the vaccines, the side effects, and mRNA technology.
You can learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines directly from minority health professionals TODAY, December 17, 2020, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Facebook. This initiative, Making It Plain: Minority Health Professionals and COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution is intended to start a national conversation to address the challenges presented by COVID-19 and increase participation in vaccine acceptance. You can click on the link above or join by copying and pasting this link in your browser https://www.facebook.com/BlackDoctor.org.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, December). Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fvaccines%2Fabout-vaccines%2Fvaccine-benefits.html
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2020, December). Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, December). COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death by Race/Ethnicity. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investigations-discovery/hospitalization-death-by-race-ethnicity.html
Disclosure: (I am a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health. Information contained in this blog post are not associated with my role at NIH).