Spectrum News NY1 recently featured SJC Brooklyn faculty member Sola Togun-Butler, Ph.D., assistant professor of human services, in a piece highlighting the efforts of professional sports franchises and athletes in combatting COVID-19 vaccine aversion in communities of color.
The piece discussed the opening of the large-scale vaccination sites at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field amidst the hurdle of supply issues, along with the ongoing debate regarding athletes getting preferential access to the vaccine in light of their good health and celebrity status.
The role of African-American sports icons such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in getting vaccinated to increase awareness among communities was presented, while other guests noted the consistent shortages of vaccine, high numbers of persons of color eligible but not yet vaccinated and how athletes should wait to become vaccinated.
In her interview, Togun-Butler explained why communities of color may have an aversion to vaccination.
“Some residents of communities of color have a deep-rooted fear of vaccination due to historical factors, such as their past mistreatment by the scientific community,” she said.
A practicing psychotherapist, Dr. Togun-Butler specializes in the provision of mental health services to clients seeking relief from depression, anxiety and traumatic experiences. Her research interests are the provision of mental health services to communities of color and the undocumented immigrant population.
When asked about the appropriateness of athletes receiving the vaccination early, Togun-Butler cited the esteem NBA players are held in among the community.
“NBA players, of course, are looked up to in communities of color: they’re influential, many perform important grassroots work in the community, and I feel that if they got the vaccine and people saw them get inoculated, it would be a step in the right direction.”