By Leonard E.Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Ernest Grant, who is African American, is the 36th president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the nation’s largest organization representing the interests of four million registered nurses.
For the past month, he has been building and networking a coalition of Black medical, faith-based, fraternal, and educational organizations to craft a message and plan to encourage Black people to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
To illustrate his sincerity as a medical professional and a “member of the Black community”, he volunteered to participate in the vaccine trials Pfizer conducted.
Of the 43,000 men and women who participated in the trials, Grant said there were 6,000 African Americans.
While some people were administered the actual vaccine, others were given a placebo. Grant said he realized he got the actual vaccine.
To be effective people will be administered two shots of half strength of the vaccine within three weeks.
“After I got the shot, for about 18 hours I had symptoms similar to what you get for the flu,” said Grant. “I had a fever, fatigue, chills, and soreness but I could work. It has all passed. But they will be observing me for the next two years.”
Grant said there are still questions about the efficacy of the vaccine. He said it is designed to build up immunity in the body to fight the virus.
He said the vaccine is categorized as a “Message RNA vaccine” that is designed to attach to a person’s cells and instruct the cells to create a protein to fight the invading virus.
He said the little red spikes you see on infected cells are what the Message RNA vaccine will prevent from compromising the immune system.
“It will be good for Black and Brown people to see people who look like them take the vaccine,” he said. “This is a good strategy and message to them to build trust because of the historic fears and mistrust among our people.”
Grant said for those who are resistant, “not doing so is like Russian roulette. He said many Blacks have dangerous preexisting medical problems such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes which make them vulnerable to the COVID, even the young.”
Dr. Keith Newby graduated from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1990. He works in Norfolk, VA, and one other location and specializes in Cardiovascular Disease.
Dr. Newby said he believes the COVID-19 vaccine is “extremely viable and I believe it will be safe and effective.” He said he will take it personally.
“I am going to encourage everyone to take the vaccine, he said.
“Unfortunately, we as a people, tend to shy away from vaccines for unclear reasons. Not sure if it is related to situations like the Tuskegee experiment, but I think because we carry such an increased risk of complications from the Covid 19 infection, we cannot afford to become a statistic. It seems very clear to me that this vaccine will
help reduce the incidence of infection and allow us to start moving back to a more normal life.”
Newby said the only question that concerns him is how long this immunity will last (after the vaccination). “It is too early to tell,” he said.
Newby said he has seen the impact of the virus first hand since the spring.
“I have had many patients who have either been negatively affected by the virus or have had a family member’s life affected by this virus.
Dr. Newby said he has had at least 12 patients who have died as a direct reflection of the Covid 19 infection. “These are real people,” he said. “Stay prayerful, wear your mask, and socially distant. Your life or
your family’s life may depend on it.”
Newby said that most medical practitioners take precautions to protect themselves, staff, and patients.
“In our office,” he said, “we carefully screen everyone who enters.
“Any sign of fever or infection, patients are asked to reschedule. If they have been exposed or infected, they must wait the standard 10-14 days before they can re-enter our office. All of our employees wear masks and follow distancing rules.”