Dusty Baker Discusses Importance of Black Doctors Approving COVID-19 Vaccine

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2020

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. walks across the field before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is taking solace in the fact that Black doctors are among those approving the COVID-19 vaccine for use.

According to Gabe Lacques of USA Today, Baker discussed what it meant to see Meharry Medical College President and CEO James Hildreth speak and vote in favor of an emergency rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine:

"Here was an African American doctor who was in charge of the vaccine, and I felt more comfortable that he and other African Americans were on the boards to come up with the vaccine. And he guaranteed that it wouldn't be another Tuskegee kind of experiment. And he urged Black Americans to use the vaccine. Because we are most susceptible to not only catching it, but dying from it."

Hildreth, who is Black and a member of the FDA panel, was among the 17 people who voted in favor of the vaccine rollout. Only four FDA panel members voted against it.

The Tuskegee experiment Baker referenced played a big role in the Black community losing trust in vaccines.

In 1932, 600 Black men from Alabama were told they were being given medicine to treat syphilis, per the History channel. In actuality, they were only given placebos so doctors could track the progression of the virus, and that continued to be the case even after penicillin was discovered to be a treatment for syphilis in 1947.

Twenty-eight of the participants died from syphilis, and a further 100 died from complications. Forty spouses were also found to have contracted the disease, which was passed on to 19 children at birth.

Baker said having Black doctors speaking out in favor of the COVID-19 vaccine could go a long way toward making Black people feel more comfortable with taking it.

The 71-year-old Baker is a prime candidate to get the vaccine early because of his age and the fact that he has survived both prostate cancer and a stroke.

After the Astros fired A.J. Hinch prior to the 2020 season because of his role in the team's sign-stealing scandal, Baker ended his two-year hiatus from managing to become the Astros' new manager.

Houston went just 29-31 under Baker in the COVID-shortened season, but he took the Astros all the way to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series before they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Baker is set to return as the Astros' manager in 2021, although he said Monday that he is unsure of what the future holds for him beyond that.