Two rows of colorful illustrations of people of various racial backgrounds and with various disabilities and band-aids. A navy blue box is in the bottom row on the left with the text “This is our shot” written in white and bright green. The lower quarter of the image shows a white field with logos. Logos included are Able SC, 100 Black Men of Greater Columbia, SC Commission on Minority Affairs, CDC Foundation, USC Collaborative on Race, and Together SC
Black and white headshot of Dr. Brown, a Black man with a thin mustache.
Black and white headshot of Dr. Henderson, a Black man with a mustache and glasses.
Color photo of Dr. Convit, a Latino man older in age with white hair wearing a white lab coat with a tie, posed next to a microscope.
Color photo of Dr. Corett, a young Black woman with long hair wearing a white lab coat. She poses leaning on a wall with her long orange nails visible as she claps her hands together.

In this month’s newsletter, we highlight scientists of color who have played key roles in the creation of vaccines.  These vaccines include polio, leprosy, and even the COVID-19 vaccine.

As a person of color, you may be struggling with whether or not to receive your COVID-19 vaccine.  It might be because you’ve heard a lot of information that isn’t true, or maybe you’ve had some bad experiences with medical care.  We hope this newsletter will encourage you by pointing out just a few of the scientists working to protect their communities right now and throughout history.

Doctors Russel W Brown and James Henderson

Doctors Russel W. Brown and James Henderson were two African American scientists from the Tuskegee Institute who helped contribute to the testing of the Polio vaccine.  In the 1950s the fear that one's own children would contract polio was a terrifying thought to many Americans.  Researcher Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine in early 1953, but he wanted to be fully certain it was safe before vaccinating children.  That’s why he turned to Doctors Brown and Henderson, who made sure the vaccine was safe by producing large amounts of a specific cell needed to test it.  You can learn more about the work of Doctors Brown and Henderson in this article from Scientific American.

Doctor Jacinto Convit

Doctor Jacinto Convit, was a Venezuelan researcher whose work was essential to the treatment and understanding of leprosy and other tropical diseases.  At the time Dr. Convit started his research, Venezuela was a very poor country experiencing lots of diseases.  Leprosy patients were forced into isolation in group settings with other Leprosy patients.  Experiencing this firsthand encouraged Dr. Convit to end the stigma around Leprosy.  Doctor Convit helped to create new treatments for leprosy and changed the way people thought about the condition.  You can learn more about his work in this article from NCBI.

Doctor Kizzmekia Corbett

Finally, we spotlight Doctor Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American scientist who played an important role in creating the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.  Corbett, an immunologist at the National Institutes of Health, is also dedicating her time to fighting against vaccine misinformation on Twitter and talking about vaccine science with communities of color.  To learn more about Dr. Corbett’s work, you can read this article from nature   

Talk with your doctor or another medical provider you trust about COVID-19 and flu vaccines and learn what is right for you.

South Carolina Vaccine Access Hotline

Still have questions? Contact the Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at (800) 787-6046 

South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline: 

A hotline staffed by Able South Carolina and Disability Rights South Carolina designed to provide people with disabilities information about many different aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine.  These resources include but are not limited to:

  • Address any concerns you may have about getting the vaccine      
  • Find a trusted medical provider 
  • Assist with vaccine appointment scheduling
  • Navigate transportation to get your vaccine 
  • Offer resources and guidance on transportation to and from vaccine 
  • Answer some of the most common disability related questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine 
  • Provide information about accessible vaccine sites based on crowd sourced data 
  • Address other disability-related barriers about the vaccine you may be experiencing     


The staff of the Disability Vaccine Access Hotline are not licensed medical providers.  They are unable to offer medical advice about the best vaccine for you or predict how the vaccine may affect you or your family

Able South Carolina
720 Gracern Road Suite 106 | Columbia, South Carolina 29210
803.779.5121 |

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