Our nation has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic: over 400,000 Americans have died from complications of the coronavirus. Black Americans are 3.7 times as likely as white Americans to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 2.8 times as likely to die.
Blacks and people of color are not inherently more susceptible to COVID-19 illness and mortality, however, existing structural racism contributes to the health disparities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social determinants of health place many people of color at heightened risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes, including disparities in healthcare coverage and access; disproportionate representation in “essential” jobs that often carry greater virus-exposure risk; crowded housing conditions; and disparities in income, education and wealth.
A Kaiser Health News analysis of state health-department data that reported vaccine recipients’ race and ethnicity, reported that Black vaccination rates are three to five times lower than White vaccination rates.
Members of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) are on the front lines where they are providing quality cardiovascular care for millions of disadvantaged Americans, including those suffering from complications of the coronavirus disease.
ABC members also lead and support research to test effective vaccines and therapies. The ABC Cardiovascular Implementation Study (CVIS) utilizes innovative approaches to collect real world data at the point of care. Through these efforts, the ABC will continue to work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research institutions, healthcare providers, ABC community health advocates and other strategic partners to promote access to effective vaccines and therapies, as well monitoring of long term effects.
Advocacy is at the heart of ABC’s work to ensure that comprehensive health policies address access to affordable healthcare, structural racism, and social determinants of health. The organization is especially proud of its grassroots work to engage Blacks and other communities of color through its signature “Spirit of the Heart” education and wellness program as well as churches, beauty salons and barber shops.
The Association also supports equitable vaccination programs, as well as a comprehensive science-based public health approach, including wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing.
ABC members share their vaccination experience and the reasons they recommend the vaccine for themselves, their patients and families:
We have a sacred obligation to take care of each other to the best of our ability using available knowledge. For me, that means ensuring that we put the brakes on the ravages of this pandemic on my family and other people of color, especially black and brown folks as well as other disadvantaged persons, hence taking the vaccine is a no-brainer for me.
– Dr. Michelle Albert, University of California, San Francisco; President, Association of Black Cardiologists
I have completed both doses of the vaccine with very minor side effects; by sharing this experience as well as our research work on vaccines, I hope to reassure my patients and our healthcare staff.
– Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, Morehouse Healthcare, Atlanta, GA; Chair of the Board, Association of Black Cardiologists
I took the vaccine to protect myself and my loved ones against Covid-19 and to incentivize black and brown people to do the same by showing that it is safe to get the shot. This gives real meaning and purpose to leadership.
– Dr. Richard Allen Williams, Los Angeles, CA; Founder, Association of Black Cardiologists
It came down to fear versus wisdom. When I looked at the science and weighed the risk it became clear I should take the vaccination. Finally, I wanted to keep my family safe and healthy, so I chose to get the vaccine.
– Dr. Marcus L. Williams, Private Practice, Newark, New Jersey, Past President of the Association of Black Cardiologists
As a doctor, I have to go out to work. I took the vaccine. I’m doing my part to keep my immediate family safe. I’m also hoping this allows us to get back to normal.
– Dr. Priscilla Pemu, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
I received my second vaccine dose over two days ago and I have nothing to report. My recommendation is get vaccinated as soon as you can but continue good public health precautions.
– Dr. Phillip Duncan, Private Practice, Richmond VA, Past Board Chair of the Association of Black Cardiologists
I posted my vaccine photos and patients are responding positively. They have told me that they will get the vaccine also.
– Dr. Osita Onyekwere, Private Practice, Anniston, AL.
Please get the vaccine. This can save your heart too!
– Dr. Barbara Hutchinson, Private Practice, Annapolis, MD, Past President of the Association of Black Cardiologists
I felt the vaccine would prevent me from getting seriously ill if infected with COVID-19 and it is also a way to help end the pandemic. Also, clinical trials have shown the vaccines to be safe and effective.
– Dr. Joe Hargrove, Private Practice, Little Rock, AR, Past Board Chair of the Association of Black Cardiologists
Founded in 1974, the ABC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the disparities related to cardiovascular disease and achieving health equity such that all people can live long, healthy lives. Membership is open to all interested in the care of people with or at risk for cardiovascular disease, including health professionals, lay members of the community (Community Health Advocates), corporate and institutional members. For more information, visit http://www.abcardio.org and connect with ABC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.