Dr Reed Tuckson laughs as he read a tweet on his phone: “‘Once COVID is over’ starts to sound a lot like ‘when Rihanna releases a new album’.”
The former Washington, DC public health commissioner isn’t just checking his Twitter feed. He reads tweets posted by black people about COVID for a new public health campaign.
The humorous observations are entertaining, but for Tuckson and the Black Coalition Against COVID – which he co-founded – the tweets also serve as jumping off points for discussion in the new “Black Doctors Read COVID Tweets” effort.
Just being rolled out on social media, tweet proofreaders are the latest content in the coalition’s COVID-19 advocacy work. The group of black doctors, nurses and researchers first spread the word in the black community about public health advice, then began working to recruit people into vaccine trials. Now they answer questions about vaccines and encourage vaccinations.
Tuckson and his team have held 13 town halls – four of them in just 10 days recently – for a wide variety of groups, from black fraternities and sororities to rural Americans and minority healthcare professional communities.
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“The black community, like any other community, is very heterogeneous, so you need a variety of tools to reach different population groups and get there in different ways,” Tuckson said.
Pharma can learn a few lessons from the effort – not only about the type of message that works, but also how to build and maintain trust with the black community.
When asked what advice he would give to the pharmaceutical industry, Tuckson said, “The most important thing they can continue to do now is to improve the reliability of their relationship with the black community.”
Healthy future relationships depend on vaccine makers, and drug makers in general, understanding that they must “have a primary concern, interest and respect for the sanctity and dignity of black life,” he said. -he declares.
“That these companies really understand that the ability of their products and innovations to be used well by the black community must be closely linked to the feeling that these companies can be trusted,” he added. “That they have the interests of black people at heart.”
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Black Doctors’ Twitter Reads – a milder take on Jimmy Kimmel Live’s “Wicked Tweets,” in which famous people read nasty messages about themselves – take real messages from black people and build on them with medical information.
Tuckson reads another: “My 70-year-old mother and a relative have been asked to get the vaccine. I tell you people are ready. This summer will be wild.
As Tuckson smiles in the video, he agrees it will be a wild summer “if we can get everyone vaccinated.” Here is the key. If we don’t, it will be a wild summer for all the wrong reasons.
Tuckson and BCAC’s message to the black community is that it’s okay to ask questions and want more information, but it’s also important to make sure the information is accurate.
“We try to tell our community that it’s okay to have questions, that it’s okay to have doubts and it’s okay to be uncertain, but in this uncertainty and what doubt, we as medical professionals have an obligation to try to talk to you and make sure you know the facts, ”he said.