It’s no secret that there is a lot of skepticism about the safety of recently developed COVID-19 vaccines, particularly within communities of color, which are among the groups hardest hit by the pandemic.
In a bid to alleviate those concerns and build more confidence among BPOC groups in vaccination programs, vaccine maker Moderna partnered with news and information platform HBCU Buzz on an hour-long roundtable discussion about the benefits of the vaccines and some of the misinformation about them.
The program was orchestrated by Moderna’s ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, part of Omnicom, and features influential Black figures, such as singer/actress Kelly Rowland and actor Lance Gross, as well as prominent Black health experts: Dr. Dan Fagbuyi, a member of the National Biodefense Science Board during the Obama Administration, and Dr. David Hodge, senior associate director, Tuskegee University National Center For Bioethics in Research & Healthcare.
A study examining untreated Black syphilis sufferers at Tuskegee Institute (1932-'72) funded by the U.S. Public Health Service is frequently cited as a main source of current mistrust about vaccines. Patients in the study were told they were being treated when in fact they were not. The study was designed to track the progression of the disease as it went untreated. The study is addressed during the roundtable.
“This effort is really about providing information for anybody watching to make a truly informed decision to vaccinate,” said Fagbuyi. “At the end of the day, you have to know the facts.”
Oyinda Elias, multicultural practice lead at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, spearheaded the roundtable effort. “There is a history of medical mistrust and rightfully so,” within the Black community, she said. “But there are also myths, rumors and misinformation that we needed to address. This conversation with trusted figures in the Black community was unscripted and authentic because we want it to resonate.”