About the project
In the winter of 2021, we asked high school students participating in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center’s Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) program and students from the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to share their thoughts and questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and healthcare disparities in minority communities.
The same communities in the US that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic are also dealing with mistrust in the vaccine and difficulties in getting access if they choose to vaccinate. These problems are the result of a long history of racism and discrimination that persists today and is reflected in the many disparities in our healthcare systems. At the same time, Black, Brown, and Native peoples are also part of the community of doctors, researchers, and healthcare workers that will help bring these problems to an end.
We know that the conversations high school students start at home and in the classroom can engage audiences that might not otherwise be reached and this can lead to change. Our goal is not to provide medical advice, nor to “preach” about what people should do. Instead, we wish to offer information that will help people make informed choices based on science.
What we’ve done
We have encouraged our students to independently gather vetted information about the vaccines and about healthcare disparities in minority populations. Students also had the opportunity to meet and interview some of the nation’s top scientists – members of the senior leadership at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – as well as unaffiliated caregivers who are responding to the COVID-19 in various ways. We believe that these high school students embody our nation’s next generation of researchers and healthcare providers. Therefore, they drove the conversations you’ll hear.
What we hope
We hope that the information provided will empower whoever watches to make choices that can save or improve their lives and the lives of others.