COVID-19 vaccine trials need immigrant and minority participants

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    In preparation for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trials, officials from Meharry Medical College (MMC) are urging participation from Middle Tennessee’s immigrant and minority communities. 

    In his Thursday press conference, Metro spokesperson Fabian Bedne urged minority groups to participate in the vaccine trials expected to start in October. For maximum efficiency, testing requires a diverse group of participants to ensure vaccine effectiveness.

    Historically, immigrants and minority groups have had limited participation in vaccine trials and the current trials are no exception, said Dr. Rajbir Singh of Meharry. Singh said nationally, COVID vaccine trials are having limited success recruiting participants from minority groups.

    Bedne said conspiracy theories shared on Facebook have caused citizens to be more fearful but is stressing the vaccine test will have minimal to no side effects. Trials are already in the third phase of development and having been through two prior rounds of testing, now require a larger pool of participants. Facilities taking part in vaccine testing need thousands of participants. 

    According to the Vanderbilt Research Program, studies typically require five to 10 study visits and participants may be compensated based on time and effort required to participate. 

    Meharry is expected to record demographic data on the vaccine trial once it begins. Both Meharry and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are undertaking vaccine trials and a private research firm may partner with the Metro Department of Health on another Phase Three trial.