By Karen Stokes
Comedian and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Loni Love, hosted a “Making it Plain” virtual town hall conversation Monday. The episode featured an intergenerational conversation with Divine Nine sorority leaders from across the nation about COVID-19 and the vaccines.
“Making it Plain, What Black America Needs to Know About COVID-19 and Vaccines,” addressed questions and concerns as the community works to protect Black lives together.
The Black Coalition Against COVID-19 town hall event panel consisted of undergraduate sorority members, sorority leaders and medical experts, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
The conversation began with Nunez- Smith, who is chair for the U.S. of COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce. She announced that the White House and the Federal Administration entered a new phase in the vaccination program. Starting Monday, everyone in the country, 16 years and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.
“No more trying to figure out when it’s your turn,” Nunez-Smith said. “Ninety percent of Americans have a vaccination site within five miles away from where they live.
COVID-19 has claimed more than 567,000 lives in America and infected millions.
The government announced Sunday that half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot.
Almost 130 million people 18 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or 50.4% of the total adult population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.
“The FDA to approve a vaccine requires a lot more time,” Murty said. “The emergency approval was used because people were dying, millions were infected. That doesn’t mean corners were cut; it means the FDA took a close look at the data and said this meets the full threshold for emergency use authorization.”
Recently there were adverse events reported concerning the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There have been cases of six women who developed a very unusual type of blood clot after getting a J & J vaccine.
“Those are extremely rare,” Nunez-Smith said. “Seven million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines had been administered, and to date the CDC and FDA are reviewing all six cases. This is a rare, more than one-in-a-million blood clot. The pause of the vaccine comes out of an abundance of caution. People need to get the facts.”
Love interviewed sorority members about what the students around the campus were saying about the vaccine and found there was a lot of skepticism about getting the vaccine.
Students expressed concern about future side effects and how the vaccine will affect fertility.
“The rumors that the vaccine may cause a loss of pregnancy have not been found to be true,” Dr. Robyn Jones, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority said. “The virus or vaccine has no increased risk to fertility.”
Some students were concerned about the speed of the development of the vaccine and that there were very few people of color involved in the study.
Nunez-Smith weighed in and said, “For decades they have been working on the technology that’s led to the vaccine development.”
“Both Pfizer and Moderna studies had 10,000 people of color in the study that involved 40,000 people,” Jones said. “Johnson & Johnson had nearly 20,000 people of color involved in their study.”
Dr. Sophia McIntyre, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, advised everyone to trust the science, know the facts over fiction, the facts over the fear and to be proactive.
Jones ended with the conversation with these closing remarks.
“We are living through a once in a 100-year global pandemic,” she said. “Trust the science. Don’t let social media be your scientific guide and do three things to keep you safe in addition to the vaccine; wash your hands, wear your masks and watch your distance.
“Vaccinations saves lives and we still are encouraging people to get vaccinated,” Nunez-Smith said.
For resources to find the facts, go to: