During a virtual sit down on Friday (April 16), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett for “A Conversation Between Legends,” and spoke about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The basketball legend and Dr. Corbett, the scientific lead of the Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, explained why they are encouraging people of color to get vaccinated, according to a news release from the Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative.
“From the beginning, I saw that the virus was a major danger to communities of color,” he said during the special half-hour virtual event. “Being from the Black community, I wanted to make sure that we were made aware that the vaccine can go a long way to eliminating the threat that it poses in communities of color. That’s why I tried to spread the word as soon as I could do a PSA advocating that the vaccines are safe and effective. It’s a responsibility I have and part of the way I give back.”
Abdul-Jabbar also noted that African Americans are more likely to trust healthcare professionals when they are people of color like Dr. Corbett.
“It seems that when the healthcare professionals are people of color, the patients have a lot more confidence in what’s being done,” the NBA Hall of Famer said.
Additionally, Kareem was asked by Dr. Corbett about young Black adults, particularly current NBA players—some of whom have raised questions about the coronavirus vaccine.
“The only message I tell people is: The vaccine is a lot safer than the disease,” he said. “If you want to take your chances with the vaccine, I think you’re a wise person. If you want to take your chances with the disease, I think you’re unnecessarily taking a risk.”
Data shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities of color the hardest— both financially and by the disproportionate number of documented cases.
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.
Watch the full conversation below.