In an interview Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that we need to prioritize giving the vaccine to minorities and the “most vulnerable,” remarking that “most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people.”
“I think that’s the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don’t want in the beginning … most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people,” Fauci said in an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
“You really want to get it to the people who are really the most vulnerable … you don’t want to have a situation where people who really are in need of it, because of where they are, where they live, what their economic status is, that they don’t have access to the vaccine,” said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“You absolutely have to respect the hesitancy of the minority population. They keep coming back and saying the history of Tuskegee,” said Fauci, referring to events in the 1930s in which the federal government denied black men in Alabama treatment for syphilis and instead tracked how the disease ravaged their bodies.
“They don’t, can’t and should not forget about it, because it happened and it was shameful,” he said.
According to research released in September, “people of color have higher rates of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.”
“Although there were not large differences in testing by race and ethnicity, among those tested, Hispanic patients were over two and a half times more likely to have a positive result (311 per 1,000) and Black and Asian patients were nearly twice as likely to test positive (219 and 220 per 1,000, respectively) compared to White patients (113 per 1,000),” the Kaiser Family Foundation research found.
Fauci has been all over the news since Biden took office. On Wednesday, he warned that getting the COVID-19 vaccination won’t give people a “free pass to travel.”
In a CNN Global Town Hall hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, retired nurse Carole Gardner told Fauci she and her husband wanted to travel to see their grandchildren. She said the two are set to get the second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Feb. 19 and asked when it would be safe to travel.
Fauci said: “The maximum immunity begins about 10 days to two weeks and beyond following the second dose… That would give you about a 94-95% efficacy and a good safety profile.” But Fauci warned that it’s “not a good idea to travel, period.”
“We don’t want people to think because they got vaccinated that other public health recommendations just don’t apply,” he continued. “So getting vaccinated does not say now I have a free pass to travel, nor does it say that I have a free pass to put aside all of the public health measures that we talk about all the time.”