Colors of COVID Radio Show

Hoping to debunk some of the myths around COVID-19 and the vaccine, Maryland and Washington, D.C. radio host, QuickSilva, and the Director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the School of Public Health, Dr. Stephen B. Thomas (Dr. T), produced “The Colors of COVID-19 Barber Shop and Salon Talk” radio show as part of the Colors of COVID-19 webinar series.
They gathered a powerhouse panel of some seriously distinguished physicians, public health professionals and other leaders for a frank video discussion in plain language about the effects of COVID-19 on Black and brown communities. FHI Clinical was honored to have our very own experts, Joy Toro and Latrina Watkins, contribute to the program.
The FHI Clinical perspective
When it was time for Joy and Latrina to share, they emphasized the importance for people of color to participate in clinical research.
Joy highlighted the problems of systemic racism, including its impact on clinical research. Referencing a point from Dr. Cook, she reminded the listeners that it’s not necessary to look too far back in history to understand that Black and brown communities face discrimination in medical settings. Because of this treatment, these communities tend to be wary of clinical trial participation. Joy highlighted that the blame isn’t on the individual. For one, there is a lack of diversity among clinical trial leaders and clinical trial locations. Increased comorbidities that are linked to systemic racism, not genetics, is just one reason representation in clinical trials is important. Many Black and brown communities may be far from and/or have limited access to safe greenways, grocery stores, clean environments or transportation — which are important factors to overall health. It’s very important that comorbidities, inclusive outreach and genuine community engagement are factors in clinical studies.
Latrina said, “Our community needs to understand the resources that are available to us, like Healthcare professionals need to work with their patients to help them better understand their options.”
Other program highlights
Questions from listeners:

Radio listeners contributed some great questions throughout the broadcast that were addressed by panelists, including, “Once you’ve had COVID, can you get it again?” “If you are a ‘health nut’ and take really good care of yourself otherwise, do you really need to get vaccinated?” “Does it matter which vaccine I get?” “With the vaccine, am I protected from all the variants?”

Common misconceptions:

Like a lot of people, QuickSilva shared that he used to think the vaccine was just a money-making scheme and that the virus doesn’t seem real until someone you know gets really sick.

Interesting admissions:

Dr. Tuesday Cook also shared that she was at first skeptical of the vaccine, but after doing her research, talking with colleagues and looking at the data, she thinks it “makes sense to get vaccinated.” Quicksilva, who’s had the virus himself, says while he’s been a hold out for the vaccine, he’s now 75% ready to sign up.

Other great points:

Dr. Christina commented, “If you get COVID, you can’t control how sick you get. But you do have a choice for plan B, which is get the vaccine …and you are protecting the people you love who may be at high risk of getting sick.” Dr. Osterholm added that mutations occur when infection happens – but they don’t exist if everyone gets vaccinated.

Panelists are listed below, along with the word or quote Dr. T asked them to contribute describing their feelings on the current state of the pandemic.
Omar Neal, former mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama, radio show host
POWER: “We have the power to put this in check now that we have the vaccine.”
Dr. Christina Stasiuk, senior medical director, CIGNA
EXHAUSTED: “I feel like I’m at the 26-mile marker of a marathon. I know we can make it, but I’m tired.”
Big Fred Spry, Maryland barbershop owner
PROTECTED: “I just got the vaccine!”
Dr. Carol Ritter, OB/GYN, Greater Baltimore Maryland Center
SECOND-WIND: “We are going to the finish line!”
Dr. Tuesday Cook, surgeon, Adventist HealthCare in Maryland
PRETTY GOOD: “Numbers are down in the hospitals, and fewer people are dying.”
Alison Mendoza – Walters, CEO, Public Health Impact
HOPEFUL: “That I can see my family safely soon and go out and do things with my kids.”
Joy Toro, Sr. Clinical Strategy Director, FHI Clinical
WATCHFUL: “I’m encouraged, but cautious.”
Lynnee Roane, Research Assistant, University of Maryland
THANKFUL: “….to be fully vaccinated and thankful to be here.”
Latrina Watkins, Director, Clinical Operations, FHI Clinical
POSITIVE: “In the beginning there was a lot of negativity, but we are starting to see people wear masks, get the vaccine…it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Dr. Rhea Boyd, pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area
“Take any vaccine you can get, and trust and believe it will protect you from serious illness!”
Dr. Fernando Porter, family medicine doctor in Maryland (QuickSilva’s personal physician)
“I don’t let patients leave my office before they know what the vaccine can do for them.”
The FHI Clinical perspective
FHI Clinical is committed to diversity in our clinical research. For example, much of our outreach for COVID-19 is through urgent care facilities, as we’ve found communities of color often using these facilities for general medical care. We know we produce better, more creative solutions by bringing more voices to the table. Go here to learn more about other FHI Clinical values.

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Lucas Tina, MD, MPH; VIBRI and KEMRI

Dr. Lucas Tina is affiliated with the Victoria Biomedical Research Institute (VIBRI) and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kisumu, Kenya. Dr. Tina serves as a Scientific Advisory Expert for FHI Clinical, and VIBRI and KEMRI are listed in FHI Clinical’s database of research sites.

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