This open letter from Greg Deavens, Independence CEO, and Robert Bogle, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune, originally appeared in print on Sunday, August 1, 2021.
The importance of the COVID-19 vaccines
The Philadelphia Tribune and Independence Blue Cross are excited to continue the Our Community. Our Health. campaign to improve the health of African Americans across Greater Philadelphia. Our new focus is to emphasize the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
We acknowledge that many in our community have questions and skepticism about the vaccines. Those questions are rooted in an understandable distrust of the medical community because of race-based inequities in health care outcomes and because of a history of systemic racism. Studies and health experts – including African American physicians – agree the vaccines are safe and effective. There is no better proof than the steep drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
As more people get vaccinated, businesses are re-opening, and we are slowly resuming many of the activities we enjoy. We are both vaccinated because we wanted to protect ourselves, our families and our friends.
But the pandemic is not over. Dangerous COVID-19 variants are becoming prevalent around the world. Sadly, the vaccination rate remains lower among African American communities, especially for people ages 20 to 44.
That means African Americans remain the most at risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. The risk is even greater for those with the chronic health conditions − including diabetes, heart disease and obesity − that are too common in the African American community. This is an urgent situation that requires our collective attention and action!
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated and encourage others to do the same. Appointments are easy to get, and the shots are free! Visit Vaccines.gov for a location near you.