Virtual Town Hall held January 16, 2021


The Minority Health Institute and UCLA BRITE Center for Science, Research and Policy held a free, virtual town hall–with an impressive list of the nations’ premier COVID-19 experts and leaders, including leaders of historically Black institutions, to provide the most current information, and to address fears and myths pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination as we fight to protect and save Black lives.

This event was organized in partnership with Black doctors and scientists in the UCLA Health system, and co-chaired by Richard Allen Williams, MD, FACC, FAHA, FACP, Founder and President of the Minority Health Institute and Vickie M. Mays, PhD, MSPH. Dr. Mays is Director of the UCLA BRITE Center for Science, Research, and Policy; UCLA Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology; Distinguished Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; and also Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Black Life.

While the event has already taken place, you can watch the extremely informative 4-hour webinar, here (password: RHH*xKi9 ).  While the event is long, the speakers are among the most influential leaders in our country. They all aim to see inclusive and equitable health outcomes, and in this webinar they provide their insights and clear information, from their vantage point as leaders in medicine, science, government, Black institutions and other organizations.


Q&A with Dr. Vickie Mays on organizing “COVID-19 Vaccination: It Matters in Saving Black Lives”


Why organize this town hall? 

The town hall was organized because a conversation is needed. While there is much talk about the availability of a vaccine, there’s a great need for education to move people to the point where they’re ready to be vaccinated.  We don’t have the luxury of waiting, and there are many individuals who will not make the appointment because of medical mistrust and historical experiences of not being cared for and valued within health care.


What do you hope will come from this town hall?
My greatest hope is that the people leave with facts and can make an informed decision.  In the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, information was kept from Black men that could have made a difference in their lives.  Now a vaccine is being offered, but individuals may keep themselves from a vaccine that could save their lives.  I want to make sure that the information is available so everyone knows the facts.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?  
UCLA is the top public institution of higher education. I want prospective students to know that there are faculty here who care deeply about the communities that our students come from. We want to use our knowledge and talents to be of service. And we want to lead with our science. 
In addition to Saturday’s town hall, the BRITE Center for Science, Research, and Policy organized a UCLA Day of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to encourage participants to talk with three other people in their network, especially family members, about their questions about the vaccine, and share information they’ve learned.  For this event, Dr. Briggs-Malonson organized a group of Black physicians and scientists to answer the questions that people might have about the vaccine.  

We hope you’ll take the time to listen to these timely and important conversations!


“COVID-19 Vaccination: It Matters in Saving Black Lives” Speakers and Panelists:

  • Danielle W. Delaney, President, Danielle Delaney Counseling
  • Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP
  • Dwayne M. Murray, Grand Sire Archon, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (also known as the Boule’)
  • Dr. Elena V. Rios, President & CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association
  • Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
  • Dr. Jehan (Gigi) El-Bayoumi, Founding Director, Rodham Institute, Professor of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Kizzmekia S. Corbett, Senior Research Fellow, Research Fellow & Scientific Lead, VRC | NIAID | NIH
  • Dr. Lauren A. Smith, Chief Health Equity and Strategy Officer, CDC Foundation
  • Dr. Lilly Cheng Immergluck, Professor of Microbiology, Biochemistry & Immunology Site Principal Investigator US COVID-19 Prevention Network, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-chair of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and Equity Task Force
  • Martha Dawson, President, National Black Nurses Association
  • Melina Abdullah, Chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles Co-founder, Los Angeles Chapter of Black Lives Matter
  • Mia R. Keeys, Director of Health Equity Policy & Advocacy, American Medical Association
  • Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, President & CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization
  • Dr. Muntu Davis, County Health Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
  • Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Senior Official, Covid-19 Vaccine Task Force, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Oliver T. Brooks, Chief Medical Officer, Watts Healthcare Corp. 120th President, National Medical Association
  • Dr. Patrice A. Harris, 174th President, American Medical Association
  • Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, Managing Director of Tuckson Health, Chairman of the Board of Directors, ViTel Net, LLC Co-founder, Black Coalition Against COVID
  • Stephen B. Thomas, Director, University of Maryland Center for Health Equity Professor, Department of Health Services Administration, University of Maryland School of Public Health
  • Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., Chairman, 100 Black Men of America
  • Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, COVID Task Force Co-Chair and nominee for 21st Surgeon General of the United States
  • Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President, Howard University