Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, was the guest on the launch of a new YouTube series aimed to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations in Black and brown communities, telling the hosts it is important not to "disrespect the distrust" that exists.
The series, "Barbershop Medicine," is hosted by Drs. Jamie Rutland and Italo Brown and is part of the YouTube Originals Series. It plays off the tradition that African-Americans talk about important issues in barbershops and beauty salons.
Fauci addressed the fact that some Black people are among those reluctant to take the vaccine. Skepticism has come from memories of the infamous Tuskegee Experiment, between 1932 and 1972, in which Black men were secretly not treated for their syphilis to study the destructive effects of the disease.
"We, the non-African American communities, got to own that," Fauci said.
"The one thing I've learned is you don't want to disrespect the distrust," he added. "You've got to make sure you say, ‘I understand why you are distrustful, so let's talk a little bit about it and talk about why it is so important in today's circumstances to get vaccinated.' So that's lesson for me number one, don't put anyone down because they'd don't trust you because, historically they have a good reason to distrust you."
Fauci said he wouldn't be combative with a skeptic, but would ask why they are hesitant, and then engage with them.
As for countering misinformation, Fauci said it's best to just put out more of the correct information.
"The best defense is a good offense," he said.
Using the example of people who worry that the vaccine causes infertility, he noted that hundreds of thousands of doses have been administered, and "There's still babies coming out."
"Barbershop Medicine" is set to speak to local patrons and celebrity guests. It is posted to the American Public Health Association's YouTube channel.
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