(WJLA) – As President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County since 1992 Dr. Freeman Hrabowski has won national acclaim as an academic leader.
Now he and his wife, Jackie, have done something which may prove as important as anything he or she has done before. They volunteered to participate in the phase 3 trial of the Moderna COVID vaccine.
“We said if we don’t do it, who is going to do it?” Hrabowski explains.
After thorough check ups and testing at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, they each got a shot. Since it is a study it may have been a placebo but Hrabowski says he believes they got the actual vaccine since after the second dose they both experienced a couple days of fatigue. He says, “Nothing extreme but you do know something is happening to your body.”
Hrabowksi is now sharing the experience for a reason.
“We were doing it for the public good,” he says, “and we were doing it because people of color especially African Americans have been really worried about taking this vaccine.”
Hrabowski says some of that distrust can be traced to systemic racism in medicine as evidenced by the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study which deceived its black subjects for 40 years until 1972 with a false promise of treatment.
Hrabowksi says that history should not be forgotten but he says times have changed. “I believe in science and I believe in these scientists and I do know this is different from the years before with the Tuskegee experiment .Just look at the people involved in the team that developed the vaccine,” says Hrabowski.
He points to Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Dr. Corbett, a UMBC grad who is African American, is one of the lead NIH researchers on the Moderna COVID vaccine.
Dr. Hrabowski says, “People need to know that people of all races have been involved in this work and they need to know, people of all colors, scientists really care and want to make sure we get this right for all people. This is a time for truth telling and a part of the truth though has to be that we have no choice but to take this vaccine.”