West Orange, NJ, – On Tuesday, March 23rd, RWJBarnabas Health’s Southern Facilities will host a webinar featuring a panel of experts who will discuss the fears and hesitations within the Black community surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, addressing specific concerns with science-based information. Hosted by Keith Byrd, Director, Health Information Management, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset & Co-Chair, RWJUH Somerset Black Professionals Network, the webinar will take place from 6PM – 6:45PM.
The panel will feature Patricia Whitley Williams, MD, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, RWJUH New Brunswick; Meika Neblett, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Emergency Medicine, Community Medical Center; Howard Hardy, MD, Colon and Rectal Surgery, RWJUH Hamilton; Tanisha Taylor, MD, Internal Medicine, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus; Arnold Williams, MD, psychiatrist, Chair of the medical staff, RWJBarnabas Health Behavioral Health Center; Keiron Greaves, MD, Anesthesiology / Pain Management, Monmouth Medical Center.
As we look back on the year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we can recognize the grim toll that the virus has taken on our state and in particular on members of our black and brown communities. According to the state, Black residents, although only making up 14 percent of the state’s population, accounted for nearly 26 percent of diagnosed COVID-19 cases and 22 percent of fatalities. Despite the increasing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus, the state reports that only 4% of shots administered have gone to Black residents, while 55% have gone to white residents.
“RWJBarnabas Health acknowledges that the medical community across the United States has failed to adequately address inequities that continue to cause nationwide disparities in healthcare delivery and outcomes,” said DeAnna Minus-Vincent, MPA, Senior Vice President, Chief Social Integration & Health Equity Strategist, RWJBarnabas Health. “However, as a system that is committed to dismantling racism, we are intentionally partnering with communities of color to build trust, foster equity and improve health.”
“It is our hope that Black community members will join the webinar and will reassured that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for people of color, especially Black communities that are disproportionately impacted by the virus. Clinical trials of the vaccine included racially diverse populations in order to ensure safety,” added Ms. Minus-Vincent. “Vaccination is about all of us. The COVID-19 vaccine will prevent serious illness and death, and it is the key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread vaccination will help protect you, your family, your loved ones and your community. Herd immunity, or more than 70% vaccination rate, will protect us all.”