*If you were unable to attend the 2021 CCTS Bioethics Forum, you can view the event recording here.

The 2021 CCTS Bioethics Forum, hosted by Tuskegee University and moderated by Stephen Sodeke, PhD, MA, and Faith E. Fletcher, PhD, MA, was held on Friday, March 19th. This year’s event, "Equity and Trust for COVID-19 Testing, Treatment, and Vaccination:  Where Do We Go from Here?" featured an esteemed panel of experts who brought diverse perspectives: Mercedes Morales-Aléman, PhD, Thomas Beavers, DMin, Latesha Elopre, MD, Richard Goldsby, PhD, Lillie Head and Michael Saag, MD.

In its new, virtual format, the event reached an international audience across 10+ states, with nearly 200 individuals from across fields, ranging from healthcare, community-based and non-profit organizations, cancer research, departments of health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more.

Dr. Stephen Sodeke, Resident Bioethicist at the Center for Biomedical Research and Professor of Bioethics in the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Modern Languages, Communication, and Philosophy at Tuskegee University, opened the event with a reflection on the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic and an observation of silence in memory of the many lives lost to the infection.
  • Lillie Head
  • Michael Saag
  • Latesha Elopre
  • Richard Goldsby
  • Mercedes Morales-Aleman
  • Thomas Beavers

Over the course of the two-hour event, Dr. Sodeke and Dr. Faith E. Fletcher, Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health in the Department of Health Behavior led panelists through topics such as the importance of building trust during the pandemic, misconceptions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, what it means to reach “herd immunity”, and other specifics surrounding the efficacy of the vaccines.
A large part of the discussion centered on vaccinations and communities of color. Panelists shared the experiences and perceptions they’ve witnessed within their communities and organizations, how healthcare and other systems can address vaccine hesitancy and mistrust, and what steps might be taken to deliver trustworthy messaging to address equity within communities of color.
This event enabled the type of vital discussion that is essential to moving forward toward the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and a more equitable healthcare system. The panelists brought deeply insightful perspectives to each of the audience’s questions, and gave tangible advice for how to build trusted systems and relationships to better serve communities. The CCTS is grateful to Tuskegee University, the Bioethics Forum planning committee, moderators, panelists, and those who attended this event for enabling this necessary dialogue. If you’re interested in viewing or sharing this event, click here.

“The CCTS Bioethics Forum on COVID-19 was a powerful and needed presentation. The expert panelists were very open, honest, and engaging. Their work and experience displayed the perfect description of how to best serve and care for patients and people responsibly. It is by merging the scientific knowledge of professionals, and scientists, with the experience of community organizers and leaders for the sake of humanity. It also requires having a willingness to work in truth, respect and dignity which they all displayed.” - 
Kimberly Robinson, LBSW, Coordinator of Health Education/Patient Navigator, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center