Dr. Anthony Fauci has an important message for Black Americans: get a booster shot.
In a recent interview with TheGrio, Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged the Black community to get a Covid booster shot in preparation of the fall surge, when the Covid infection rates are expected to rise. He said that the Food and Drug Administration will soon authorize an updated booster shot, known as the bivalent BA.5 vaccine, which is a closer match to the circulating Omicron variants of Covid.
"If the African-American population… want to diminish their risk of infection and severe disease, stay heads up for the availability of this updated bivalent BA.5 vaccine," he said of the booster that could be available as soon as mid-September.
He also noted that Covid infection rates continue to disproportionately affect Black Americans because of two key factors: their occupations and underlying health conditions.
"African Americans as a group, generally, are employed in jobs that put them out into society in contact with individuals where the risk of getting infected is greater than someone who can actually do their job behind a computer screen or in front of a Zoom," Fauci noted, before adding that underlying conditions, like diabetes, hypertension and chronic lung disease that disproportionately affect Black Americans and other people of color, "make it more likely that if you do get infected, you'll have a severe outcome."
Fauci said it's "very disturbing" that Covid deaths have remained around 400 per day during the summer surge.
"If you look at the infection rate now as late into the summer as mid-August, we're still seeing well over 100,000 documented cases every day," Fauci said. "And since so many people get infected and get the home test and never report that they're infected, the actual number of infections is probably multifold, more than just 100,000 a day."
He said that because Covid keeps producing new variants and cannot be eradicated or eliminated, the goal is for the population to gain immunity. This includes getting the Covid infection rates down, "so that even though the virus still is around, it doesn't have a significant impact on our lifestyle, the way Covid has over the last two and a half years."