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Xavier, Tulane doctors team up to reach minority communities with COVID vaccine facts

“The biggest barrier that the community's been relating to us is issue of trust,” Dr. Sarpong said.

The black community, along with other minority communities have been especially hard hit by the pandemic.

A $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health has local doctors making sure those groups are not left behind on treatments and a potentially life-saving vaccine. 

The opinions and concerns of African-Americans are very important to stopping COVID-19 so doctors at Xavier and Tulane have teamed up to listen to their voices. 

“I think this is a very important study and I think we are in a state of crisis as a nation,” said Dr. Daniel Sarpong, a Professor of Biostatistics and director of the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education at Xavier.

That study is getting to the bottom of circulating misinformation about COVID-19 clinical trials and vaccines.

“The biggest barrier that the community's been relating to us is issue of trust,” Dr. Sarpong added.

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“What happened in the past with things like the Tuskegee Trial. that was tragic, but what would be more tragic today is that we haven't moved beyond that to get things that work to our communities in dire need,” said Dr. Tonette Krousel-Wood, Tulane Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Associate Provost for the Health Sciences.

So the study aims to combat misconceptions with the most powerful of tools, education.

“We're going to be building in community forums. We're going to be building in expert panels, and webinars that are outreach to the groups.  We are engaging the Urban League of Louisiana as well as The Skin You're In campaign to help us get the messages out,” said Dr. Krousel-Wood.

“In life, when people feel like they are being pushed to make a decision, there's always going to be a pushback, but when people are informed and educated, then they can make an intelligent decision,” said Dr. Sarpong.

The team is hearing from the black community that facts are important and to take politics out of the vaccine. It's a community that's contributed to the vaccine's development.

“Different from 40, 50 years ago, we have got black scientists, black doctors, black leaders, at the head table making the decisions,” noted Dr. Krousel-Wood.

“I think the community will rally behind and then we will be able to put a lid on this, this pandemic. That is my hope and that's my prayer,” said Dr. Sarpong.

And in the end he says, “We as a community will be protecting each and every one of us.”

The Halt COVID Louisiana website: