INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Surgeon General and former Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams visited Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis Wednesday.
The Surgeon General was joined by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Health Commissioner Dr. Virginia Caine to discuss the new coronavirus vaccine.
Dr. Adams and Indianapolis officials discussed the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected communities of color. The former Eskenazi doctor spoke about COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact it’s having on those them.
“Shots are going into arms. A true shot of hope. And we’re at the beginning of the end,” said Vice Admiral Dr. Jerome M. Adams, U.S. Surgeon General.
The COVID-19 marathon isn’t over yet. His message was personal to the African-American community, and it was vigilance and vaccination while stressing more education for communities of color.
“Three to five times the rate of infection. Three to five times the rate of hospitalization and of death. And that is why it is so important that now we have a tool to in this pandemic that we make sure that tool is equitably distributed,” said Dr. Adams.
Dr. Adams stressed that in 2020 there’s still a significant amount of distrust in the African-American communities when it comes to government and medicine.
“The terrible Tuskegee experiments that people often talk about but many people don’t really understand. In 1932 the U.S government, led by the office of the Surgeon General, one of my predecessors, began a study where they asked Black males to come in if they had syphilis,” said Dr. Adams.
Those men were promised free health care. 15 years later researchers found penicillin was effective for treating syphilis. The black men who participated in the study we’re denied that treatment.
“And for over 40 years several of my predecessors watched those Black men suffer and many of them die in the name of science. That, and many other situations like Henrietta Lacks who had her cells taken from her in the name of science,” said Dr. Adams.
He said, since then, there are protections and committees that have been put in place across the country to ensure that can never happen again.
Adams called on faith leaders in the communities to help get the word out and get vaccinated. Reverend James Jackson feels it’s all about the message leaders send.
“I think there needs to be a dissemination of more information as to how this vaccine is different from some of the others in the past,” said Reverend James Jackson, Fervent Prayer Church.
Pandemic fatigue is beginning to settle in as we enter the holidays once again, and a new year. But the Nations Top Doctor has one final reminder to Hoosiers.
“I want you to be optimistic I want you to have hope this holiday season but I want you to hang on. Because if we do that then we will all get to a brighter tomorrow very quickly,” said Dr. Adams.