Virtual Town Hall Explores COVID-19 Vaccine in the Black Communities

Virtual Town Hall Explores COVID-19 Vaccine  in the Black Communities

TULSA - Amid concerns about health disparities related to ethnicity, OU Health Physicians Tulsa, in collaboration with community partners Friendship Church and Westview Pediatric Care, invites members of Tulsa’s Black community to learn more (and get questions answered) about COVID-19 vaccination. The town-hall style event will be held from 7 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 10, using the Zoom virtual platform. Rev. Jamaal Dyer, minister at Friendship Church, will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.

Joining local physicians and other health professionals to address questions and concerns is national scientific expert Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. He also is chief of the NIH Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory.

Graham earned his medical degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, and completed his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, where he also completed an internal medicine residency, chief residencies, and a fellowship in infectious diseases. Graham’s work has contributed to the development of novel vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, Zika and coronaviruses. These include the first COVID-19 vaccine and monoclonal antibody to enter clinical testing, now authorized for emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Graham will discuss development, safety and efficacy of the vaccine. From the onset of the pandemic, Graham worked closely with Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D., an immunologist with the Vaccine Research Center of the NIAID NIH, the nation’s scientific lead of the federal coronavirus vaccine program and advocate for its use in vaccine-hesitant populations.

Other participants include these experts who will speak from their own experiences with the vaccine and answer questions posed by virtual attendees:

  • Syeachia Dennis, M.D., MPH, Family Medicine, OU Health Physicians
  • Christopher Harris, M.D., Family Medicine, OU Health Physicians
  • Runako Whittaker, M.D., Pediatrics, Westview Pediatric Care
  • Bruce Dart, Ph.D., Executive Director, Tulsa Health Department

Questions about the event may be directed to Rev. Dyer at