South Florida Hospital News
Sunday April 11, 2021
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March 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 9
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The Promise of Vaccines for All

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest public health and healthcare challenge of our time. In the face of this challenge, Broward Health caregivers have remained committed to providing quality healthcare to all we serve.

The resiliency of our community and our region has been put on display in the face of COVID-19, and again we have shown our strength in unity and our commitment to one another. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, with a vaccine that is showing promise in helping us turn the corner against COVID-19, our strength and unity are more important than ever before.
 
The virus has ravaged our region, and it has taken an even larger toll on our Black and Hispanic communities. As we begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine and seeing its highly effective results, we know these communities have experienced historic issues with access to care and a lack of minority providers delivering care.
 
As a member of the Black community and a healthcare provider, these issues hit close to home for me, particularly in the fight against this deadly virus. The COVID-19 vaccines represent a turning point in the pandemic and the first sign of hope toward widespread recovery from the virus and its impacts. While vaccinations are critical to slowly ending the pandemic and keeping our communities safe, the underlying mistrust of healthcare providers within minority communities represents another challenge we must overcome together.
 
With systemic health and social inequities placing many people of color at an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, Broward Health is working closely with state and local authorities to help ensure safe distribution of vaccines to all groups, especially people of color. We are committed to enhancing community access to this lifesaving vaccine, as well as providing education to members of our community, enabling them to make the best decision about the vaccine for themselves and their families.
 
When it comes to the vaccine, safety is a top priority. The federal approval process for all vaccines, including those protecting against COVID-19, requires rigorous testing and trials to prove the vaccine is safe and effective, and we have seen the U.S. vaccine safety system efficiently and properly work to ensure that all vaccines meet these criteria before distribution. The vaccines that have been currently approved under emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have proven to be 94-95% effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19. If you have questions or hesitations, I encourage you to contact a physician or healthcare provider you trust to discuss more.
 
It has been almost a year since the first patients in Florida were diagnosed with COVID-19. We now have the chance to deploy our most effective tool yet in curbing COVID-19: a vaccine that can return a sense of normalcy. I encourage everyone, especially people of color and those with high-risk health conditions, to consider receiving a vaccine. While we are currently only vaccinating community members over the age of 65 and patient-facing healthcare providers, that will soon change and it will be your turn to receive the vaccine. Please, consider being vaccinated as together we learn from this pandemic and enjoy a healthier future.

Dr. Shawnette Saddler, Internal Medicine, Broward Health Physician Group.

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