African American doctor encourages Black community to get COVID-19 vaccine

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Dr. Gilliamw as hesitant about a vaccine at first.(WDKY)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – An African American doctor of internal medicine at Baptist Health is encouraging the Black community to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Jai Gilliam said he was hesitant to get his own vaccine at first. He recalled a dark history of medical experiments on African Americans.

“When we talk about race relations and racism, this nation tends to treat it as taboo, and you can’t do that,” Dr. Gilliam said. “You can’t fix what you’re not willing to face.”

African Americans have been more likely to die from COVID-19 and least likely to get vaccinated. Gilliam blames racism in medicine.

“When we look at access, when we look at quality of deliverance of care, there are some disparities in that, even today.” Dr. Gilliam said.

After seeing the virus affect his family and friends, even killing two of his colleagues, Dr. Gilliam decided to overcome his own fears.

“You do not have to have an underlying condition to die of this virus, so it’s defiantly a wake up call to be proactive.” he said.

After reviewing the research, Dr. Gilliam determined the vaccine was safe, and got his injections. He’s now encouraging everyone to be the same.

“It’s not a Tuskegee experiment. It’s not something like we’ve gone through in out past where treatment was withheld and we were the subjects,” Dr. Gilliam said. “This is something that is available to all and the pandemic is affecting humanity.”

He said if anyone has reservations about the vaccine, they should do their research and ask questions.

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