Posted earlier today (May 25), makeup expert, influencer, and well-known YouTuber Jackie Aina posted a Zoom interview she had with President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci about how the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines work and how healthcare resources can be more equitably distributed to the Black community.
As per Deadline, Aina’s interview was “part of a virtual town hall in an effort to reach young audiences unsure or hesitant to get the shots.” Other influential voices on YouTube also had the chance to ask President Biden and Dr. Fauci questions that their respective audiences might need information on as well.
In the video, Aina shared that her questions had to be “pre-approved” and that the team that reached out to her about the opportunity said that they were fans of her content. “As it pertains to issues that relate to the Black community,” she noted, “they wanted someone of the youth to be a representative so they chose me.”
Offering her first question with some context to go along with it, Aina asked Dr. Fauci and President Biden, “What you say to folks who are fearful of the COVID-19 vaccine? I often feel that public figures hinge on the idea of mainly focusing on the world re-opening — which is great, but it’s not the only thing we should be focused on — as opposed to actually addressing the vaccine science itself.”
In his response, Dr. Fauci emphasized that “COVID-19 is a very serious disease.” Speaking on how the vaccine was expertly designed to protect people from the virus, he continued, “The science behind both the safety and efficacy of the vaccine is truly extraordinary. Of all the vaccines that I’ve been involved with — developing over the decades that we’ve been doing this — this is a highly, highly effective vaccine that in the clinical trials alone there were tens and tens of thousands of people in the trials that showed them that it was safe and effective.”
“And now, tens — if not hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated with that. And you know what we found out? That it’s even more effective than the clinical trials show,” he emphasized. “It’s extraordinarily safe and it’s something that is highly, highly protective.”
As the Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the country’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Fauci went on to that when people bring up their “reasonable concerns” about the virus and its vaccine, he didn’t believe in shaming them.
“But they need to know that the science that went into it is absolutely pristine,” he said during the interview. “This is the result of decades of very intense basic and clinical research and that’s the reason why the President and I feel very comfortable when we strongly recommend that people get vaccinated.”
Amidst his response to the first question, President Biden noted, “One of the things that I think is important is that if people understand the science of [the vaccine] and why we think this is so important, they are more inclined to think not just about themselves but think about other people.”
“I think it forces a person to be more introspective and decide ‘Do I have an obligation to get this [vaccine] even though I feel pretty secure that I’m not going to get it? Because I just learned the science that you can be a carrier in effect without knowing [and] having no symptoms,'” the President said, speaking on the thoughts many currently have now as they decide whether or not they’ll become vaccinated.
The next question that Aina posed asked, “In a country where communities of color — specifically Black communities — don’t have equitable access to healthcare resources, how can we ensure that these communities have access to the vaccine?”
While answering, President Biden highlighted the fact that the problem Black communities in America face in terms of inadequate access to healthcare resources is greater than just their lack of access to the vaccine. Touching on the impact problems like being located in food deserts and living in fenceline communities have, Biden said that “A lot of African American’s have found themselves behind the eight ball because they in fact were exposed from the time they were children, to an environment that wasn’t healthy.”
Regarding how he’s trying to curb the issues surrounding access to equitable health resources that Black communities face, Biden said that he started an over 20 member “commission” with “serious scientists and doctors on it” that include a person whose position is solely dedicated to equity, “to make sure that we’re reaching out into minority communities.”
Mentioning his awareness that many older Black people still remember when experimentation was conducted on their communities — such as on the Tuskegee Airmen — that of which fuels their “great reluctance” to the vaccine, Biden said the administration keeps a “fastidious account” of all the African Americans who’ve gotten sick and those who’ve died from the virus respectively — and has “vastly expanded where the vaccine is available, to over 80,000 sites,” in order to make it more accessible to Black communities.
If you didn’t know, the President also mentioned Uber and Lyft’s partnership to transport people for free to and from vaccination sites until July 4.
Read more expert insight on the COVID and the vaccine here, and see Aina’s full interview with President Biden and Dr. Fauci down below.