African American leaders in New York are announcing a task force in order to deliver a safe and readily available coronavirus vaccine to Black communities. Understanding the apprehension around the vaccine within the community, these leaders are also ready to address any concerns people might have over safety and efficacy.
“The nonprofit community, as well as relevant stakeholders, will be part of this process,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director (FPWA) in a press release. “Our goal is to make this process and plan as comprehensive and useful as possible. Our goal here is to save lives.”
“We chose New York for the Task Force because it went from being the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis to the nation’s leader in demonstrating how best to combat the pandemic,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, in the release. “The foresight and fortitude shown by the state’s Governor and our non-profit community, who have been doing the work and out front on the issue of health care inequity, was just as critical then as it is now.”
The task force is specifically targeting the Black community in hopes that they will be more readily accepting of the vaccine and urge friends and family to do the same. African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. According to the CDC, Black people are almost four times more likely to be hospitalized for the disease and almost three times more likely to die from it.
“The task force is going to push an aggressive campaign to spread the word about the importance of the vaccine,” said Nina Turner, the former presidential campaign co-chair for Bernie Sanders and founder of Amare Public Affairs. “This information will be fact-based and reliable. It is imperative that the Black community and other communities of color have prioritized access to specifically address the disproportionate effect the COVID-19 virus has had on these communities.”
She continued: “This initiative is an example of future efforts to address the gaps in medical care that the Black communities have endured for generations.”
Along with Turner, the task force includes Danny Barber, Chair, Citywide Council of Presidents of NYCHA Tenants' Associations; Karen Boykin-Towns, Vice Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors; Kyle Bragg, President, SEIU 32BJ; Steve M. Cohen, Former Secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Hazel Dukes, President, NAACP New York State Conference; Dr. Debra Furr-Holden, Epidemiologist, Michigan State University; Jennifer Jones Austin; Marc Morial; Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League; Dr. Wayne J. Riley, President, SUNY Downstate Medical Center; Rev. Al Sharpton, CEO and Founder, National Action Network (NAN).
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.