As one of the few HBCU medical schools, the Morehouse School of Medicine has done a thorough job of directly handling COVID-19 prevention and treatment in its community. On Tuesday, January 5, the institution took care of some special guests who all belong to a particularly vulnerable demographic.

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron (left) and former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis W. Sullivan (right) prepares to be vaccinated, courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Four leaders in politics, entertainment and public service will be honored by receiving their vaccination at the HBCU. Those individuals are Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, veteran broadcasting executive Xernona Clayton and Major League Baseball legend Hank Aaron.

“They marched to the polls to secure our rights,” said Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, “And now, they are rolling up their sleeves to save lives. The way to stop the devastating impact of COVID-19 in the Black community is to get the vaccines into black arms.”

Considering that all the leaders are over 75 years of age, they are entitled to a space on the vaccine priority list in Class 1A. Grady Health System, which is one of the largest public safety net systems in the nation, will provide the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

MSM’s vaccinations are part of a larger plan to quell fears of the vaccine within the African American community. Historically, racism in healthcare have led African Americans to receive debilitating and even fatal treatments. However, the resulting hesitation to engage with healthcare professionals couldn’t come at a worse time. African Americans are disproportionately more likely than other racial groups in the United States to be infected and also die from the virus.

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron awaits his COVID-19 vaccine, courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hank Aaron shared how proud he was to be vaccinated at such a historical pillar of the Black community. Back in 2015, he and his wife, Billye Suber Aaron, went so far as to donate $3 million to MSM for the medical school to construct a new pavilion on campus.

“I am so proud of Morehouse School of Medicine for efforts to remain in the forefront of the country’s response to COVID-19,” Aaron said. “And I am honored to join the medical school in combatting vaccine hesitancy. Its new Morehouse Healthcare clinic in Atlanta’s historic West End is a tremendous investment and resource in the effort to erase health inequity in underserved communities.”