Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Global Town Hall; The Color of COVID: The Vaccines. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 18, 2020 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome. I'm Don Lemon in New York.


Welcome to this CNN town hall, "The Color of COVID: The Vaccines."

We're being seen around the world on CNN International and online at

LEMON: It's a pleasure to be here with you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You too, Don.

LEMON: And, as we speak right now, a second COVID vaccine, the one from Moderna, has just received emergency use authorization from the FDA, a tremendously important new development, especially in communities of color, which have been so hard-hit by this pandemic, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Yes, that's right, for sure.

But that hope that you're talking about, as you know, is also tempered by hesitancy or even outright fear. And that's why we're here tonight, to provide transparency and to get straight answers to questions we may have, you may have about keeping your loved ones safe.

Also, Don, I don't know if you know this. I received the vaccine today at the hospital where I work.


GUPTA: And I'm going to tell you about it later in the show.

LEMON: Yes, I saw that. It's very important, especially with someone of your profile and with your knowledge, get it, so that people can see that it is OK.

As you said, we have got a lot to talk about tonight.

So, joining us tonight, we're going to get some answers to the vaccine. They're going to ask -- they're going to answer your questions -- questions and hopefully allay some of the fears.

That's from Dr. Anthony Fauci, perhaps the nation's foremost infectious disease expert, and the surgeon general, Jerome Adams, who -- he got vaccinated today as well, Sanjay.

GUPTA: That's right. That's right.

Also joining us, other leaders in the medical field, including the head of Morehouse School of Medicine Atlanta, leaders in the faith community, and a historic first, one of the first people in America to get the vaccine this week.

LEMON: So, we want to hear from you.

So, make sure you do this, right? We want your feedback. We want your questions.

Tweet us your questions with the hashtag #CNNTownHall or we want you to leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page.

So, a lot of you have sent them in video form for us. So, you can see some of them up on the screen right now. And we're going to get to as many as we can tonight.

So, thank you so much.

So, we're going to start with where we are right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And ready? One, two, three.

LEMON (voice-over): As the first vaccines outside of clinical trials were administered nationwide this week, many of the hardest-hit communities remain reluctant to receive them.


LEMON: A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation finding 35 percent of black Americans would probably or definitely not get the vaccine if it is determined to be deemed safe by scientists and widely available at no cost.

The U.S. surgeon general today acknowledging the lack of trust is not without good reason, citing the Tuskegee experiments on African American men that began in the 1930s and went on for more than 40 years.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: To truly promote confidence in these vaccines, we must start by acknowledging this history of mistreatment and exploitation of minorities by the medical community and the government. But then we need to explain and demonstrate all that has been done to correct and address these wrongs.

LEMON: There's also concern among the Latino and Native American communities as well.

According to the CDC, black, Hispanic and Native American people infected with COVID-19 are about four times more likely to be hospitalized than white people and are nearly three times more likely to die from the virus.

There is good news. People of color, according to the Kaiser study, overwhelmingly said they would trust information about the vaccine if it came from their personal health care provider. Now the task remains to build on that trust nationwide.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you're going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just the fact.


LEMON: Hmm. And he knows the facts, Sanjay.

And, by the way, he said the first was taken by an African American woman, right?


LEMON: The first American believed to have gotten the vaccine is a woman of color.

GUPTA: That's right.

LEMON: Name is Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, the New York City borough of Queens, rolling up her left sleeve Monday morning, right? She grew up in Jamaica, not the one in Queens, by the way, and is director of critical care nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

And she's seen this virus, what it can do. She's seen it up close.

And guess what? She also joins us right now.

We're so happy that you could join us tonight.

GUPTA: Thank you, Sandra.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

So, Sandra, Sanjay got it today. And I think he only has a sore arm. And how are you feeling? Are you experiencing any other side effects, besides -- other than a sore arm?


I'm -- first of all, thank you very much. I'm honored to be on your program and to be in the presence of so many esteemed experts who I have listened to for many months.


No side effects at all, not even soreness in my arm today, no inflammatory responses that the experts have said that I may experience. I didn't experience any weakness, no pain. I feel great.

I went back to work the next day.

LEMON: Wow. Good stuff.

GUPTA: That bodes well for me. I'm right behind you, Sandra.



GUPTA: You know, Sandra, you know the theme of tonight, talking about vaccine hesitancy.

You said you wanted to be one of the first people to receive this vaccine, so that you could lead by example. So, it's been a few days now. I'm wondering, have you found that to be true? Have people been encouraged by seeing you get the vaccine?

LINDSAY: Sanjay, so many people have reached out to me via text, via e-mail, come up to me at work the next day to say: Sandra, I got the vaccine. I was so inspired by you. Thank you for leading us, thanking you for being so brave and courageous.

And that was the intent.

LEMON: You know, I have got to ask you, Sandra, because you know Queens was hit really, really hard. And we were thinking about the folks on the front lines, like you, during the height of this -- in the beginning of this epidemic. It's still going on.

You have been on the front lines of this since the very beginning. I know, right now, your hospital is experiencing a surge. So, to those who are still scared to get the vaccine, give us your message to them tonight.

LINDSAY: I want to tell them that, to your listening audience, to everyone around the world, this is not a hoax. This is real.

I have lived it. I know that our past, the legacy of the past, it looms darkly over minorities, blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, black and brown people.

But every day since March that I entered work has -- each day has gotten darker and darker. I have seen the effects of it. And I don't want to see you end up in one of our ICU beds or enter our hospitals.

So, many people have made tremendous sacrifices to save lives. And you see health care workers, essential workers both in and out of the hospitals, in our schools, in our restaurants, have been telling us how tired they are.

One thing you can do for us, partner with us. Let's partner together and put an end to this pandemic once and for all. Let's bend that curve. Let's crush that curve and keep it down.

LEMON: She's convincing me.

I mean, well said right, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Absolutely. And people need to hear this message, because no one who gets this expects to get it, right? They're all surprised. They develop a few symptoms, and then it gets worse.

I'm curious for you, Sandra. I mean, I know you have only had one of the two shots. But do you psychologically feel different? I mean, do you feel less worried or different in any way?

LINDSAY: You know, Dr. Gupta, I have been saying to my colleagues, in my 26-and-a-half years of nursing, I have never felt so afraid.

And so, tonight and right after the shot, you saw that I applauded. I felt like the burden of fear had been lifted off my shoulders.


LINDSAY: I feel so good. I have been saying to all of my friends, the leaders in the organization, I am ready for this shot. I can't wait to get it. I am done. We need to put an end to this.

And so, tonight, I just feel so relieved and encouraged. And when -- I when people look at me, I want them to see hope. That's the message I want to send to everyone. And the vaccine is no good in a freezer. It needs to get in our arm. It's the vaccination piece of it.

And so I have heard as well that the second shot, I may feel lousy. It's a booster, so it's going to boost your immune system, and may make you feel bad. But I am ready for it. I am ready for it. I -- and I encourage everyone who took the first shot, don't be discouraged by what you may experience in the second shot, because it's a good thing.

It means that your immune system is working.

GUPTA: That's how you know it's working, right?



LEMON: Sanjay, I mean, she is an example of nurses all over the country, all over the world, right, what they -- what they do and how they care for people, and just the example that they set.

Sandra Lindsay, thank you so much.

And I'm sure you will attest to this before we go. I know you said that you are -- you are -- you felt like a weight had been lifted. But you can't let up yet. You still have to take the precautions, right, because not everybody has been...

GUPTA: That's a good point.


LEMON: Not everybody's been inoculated and gotten the vaccines.

LINDSAY: Correct.

And so, we know it's the time of the year when we get together and celebrate with our friends and family, but we can't let up yet. The finish line is close, but we haven't crossed it yet. So, continue to practice hand hygiene, social distancing, wear your mask.

And, Don, if I may just say, you know I'm a nurse, representing nurses and representing health care workers. There have been so many unsung heroes in this fight, and I just want to take one second to acknowledge them. Our respiratory therapists, I just want to acknowledge our patient care associates who support us nurses, the supply chain personnel, the people who provide us food, our food and nutrition, all the people, the unsung heroes, people -- the essential workers outside of the hospital.

Our administrators who have to -- every day it's a challenge, where are we going to expand? Where are we going to surge to? How are we going to keep people safe? That's a huge responsibility. And so, we just want to acknowledge them. And I want to thank the scientists who led the way so that I can feel this sense of relief and joy. Thank you so much.

LEMON: Well, we are grateful right along with you. And we thank you very much, Sandra Lindsay, appreciate you coming on.

GUPTA: Thanks, Sandra.

LEMON: And thanks for your work...

LINDSAY: Thank you.

LEMON: ... and especially for the example that you set this week.

So, joining us now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, and -- the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Also, Dr. Jerome Adams, who is the U.S. surgeon general and a COVID vaccine recipient -- a new COVID vaccine recipient.

We're so happy to have both of you on. Thank you so much. I'm going to start with you, Surgeon Adams. We shared at the top of this program, right, that you got the first dose of the vaccine live on-air this morning. So, first of all, tell us how you're feeling and why this is so important for you to do this publicly.

ADAMS: Well, physically I feel fine. I heard Sanjay talking earlier, I got a little bit of a sore arm in the last couple of hours, but that's normal. That happened after my flu shot. You can have a fever. You can have a mild headache. That's the vaccine working, as Sandra said earlier. But I don't have that yet.

And emotionally I just really am pumped. I'm really pumped because this is, again, the light at the end of the tunnel we've been waiting for. This is the beginning of the end. And make no mistake about it, it's going to be a hard couple of weeks. We've still got work to do to get over this surge. But I want people to be encouraged.

And I did this on TV because I want people to understand, I've looked at the data. I've worked with the companies and I felt safe getting the vaccine. It is OK. It's OK to ask questions. It's OK to wonder, is this right for me? But what's not OK is to let misinformation cause you to make a decision which is bad for your health. I looked at the data, I made a decision that I thought was appropriate for my health, and that's all I'm asking your viewers to do too.

LEMON: All right.

GUPTA: And, Dr. Fauci, we have video of Vice President Pence as well, and the second lady, getting vaccinated this morning alongside the surgeon general. We know that President-elect Biden plans to get his dose I think on Monday, in part for national security reasons. It does raise the question, I mean, should President Trump get vaccinated? I know he had the infection, but what would you recommend in this case?

FAUCI: Well, that's a personal choice, Sanjay, between the president and his physicians. One of the things that you have to keep in mind that he received a monoclonal antibody when he was ill, so he still might have a very high level of antibody in his system, which you might want to wait a bit before you actually vaccinate him.

So I don't know exactly the reason why he's not, but I think that could be one of the reasons. But ultimately he might want to get vaccinated. I had recommended publicly that both he and Vice President Pence ultimately get vaccinated. And as you know, the vice president got vaccinated today publicly, which is really good. I like that example not only of the vice president, but also for Surgeon General Adams to do that.

I think that was a good thing, representing to the community, to the people watching that this is something that we all should do because we get the majority of people in this country vaccinated, we're going to turn this around for sure.

LEMON: Yes. Surgeon General Adams, the stats are staggering. You know, I mentioned them at the top of the show, one recent study that found nearly one-third of Black Americans remain hesitant to get the vaccine. You're going to go to these communities to change that, right? Tell us what you're doing.

ADAMS: Well, absolutely. And one thing I do want to say is that we talk a lot about vaccine hesitancy, we don't talk about vaccine confidence.


Yes, these numbers need to move further in the right direction, but just a month ago, 30 percent of people said that they would get the vaccine. Two weeks ago, it was up to 60 percent. Now it's up to 80 percent total according to surveys.

I want people to know that more and more people are finding out about this vaccine and they're getting it. But what I'm doing is really starting by asking people what their concerns are. And you mentioned this earlier. People talk about Tuskegee all the time, but a lot of people don't know what happened.

In 1932, Black men who had syphilis were recruited into a government study and told they would be treated for their syphilis. Unfortunately, there was never an intent to treat these men, it was intended to follow them. But what's really horrific is that 15 years into that study they actually came up with a treatment for syphilis, an effective treatment, and it was not given to these men.

And this study went on for 40 years. And what people don't know is the Office of the Surgeon General actually oversaw that study, the United States Public Health Service. So, every day I walk into my office, I walk past a wall of men who actually did this to people like me. And I'm sorry it makes me a little bit emotional when I talk about this, but this is something that we have to acknowledge.

We have to acknowledge that this has happened to people and that mistrust comes from a historical place. But we also have to explain to people that, hey, we put protections in place to make sure this could never happen again. The Office of Human Research Protections was put in place after Tuskegee.

We have independent data and safety monitoring boards. You've got the FDA VERPAC committee and the CDC ACIP committee, which are independent people with people of color on those committees looking at it. And as Dr. Fauci has said, my good friend Dr. Corbett at NIH, is an African American female, PhD, one of the smartest people I know, who actually developed this vaccine.

We now have many people looking to make sure these vaccines are safe, and I want people to know that. And I'm working with trusted influencer Steve Harvey, faith leaders like T.D. Jakes. We want to make sure people who are trusted in the community have the facts because if they feel confident, the people who look up to them are going to feel confident.

LEMON: If I can just jump in, I want to follow up with the surgeon general. This made you very emotional. And there -- listen, you say we should talk about vaccine confidence, but there are a lot of -- this is why we're doing it. There are lots of -- many people who are Black, African Americans out there who don't have the confidence in the government.

Do you -- what are you hearing when you're out there talking to people? Do they become as emotional as you about not having trust in their government?

ADAMS: They absolutely do. And we talk about historical wrongs, but one of the things we need to talk about are wrongs that are still going on today. When you look at COVID-19, the fact that you are three to five times more likely to end up in a hospital and/or die if you're African American, Hispanic, or Native American, those are wrongs that are going on right now.

And we talk about pre-existing medical conditions, but we've got to start talking about pre-existing social conditions, transportation, safe, affordable housing, a good-paying job. One in five Blacks and one in six Hispanics has a job that allows them to telework. So, when we tell people, telework if you can, what does that mean? We know people of color are more likely to live in densely packed urban areas and in multigenerational housing. So, when we tell you to go home and isolate or quarantine, what does that mean?

We need to dig deeper. We need to address these social wrongs that are going on now. And that's one thing I'm trying to do and that Dr. Fauci is trying to do and that we're trying to do as part of a task force is address these issues so that people see, hey, you really are trying to correct these wrongs. People need to know that you care before they care what you know.

GUPTA: Dr. Adams, Jerome, thank you for sharing some of that history. As much as I've read, I didn't even know some of that, so thank you for sharing that.

Dr. Fauci, we'd like to get to some viewer questions, if that's OK. This first one is a video. Please take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was race or ethnicity a factor when they selected participants for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials?


GUPTA: Dr. Fauci?

FAUCI: Yes, well, we made a very special, special effort to get adequate representation of not only African American but also Latinos in the trials. Certainly, what we did, we monitored them literally on a weekly basis to make sure that the relative percentage of individuals of the minority groups that were in the clinical trial were actually representative of the demographic proportion in the population.

So, we didn't quite get to the 13 percent, which is the African American proportion in the population, in the Moderna trial was somewhere around 11 percent. About 18 percent of the population is Hispanic. We got up to about 21 percent.


The reason why it is so important to get individuals in the minority group into the clinical trial, because when you show them the data that this particular candidate, in this case, recently Moderna, is both safe and highly efficacious, that it is safe and highly efficacious in the minority populations. It builds confidence rather than saying we're not really quite sure what it will be like with you. When you're in the trial, we know that, in fact, it is safe, and it is efficacious in you.

And that was one of the positive things about that trial. It represented the populations as they exist in the community.

GUPTA: And we can show some of these numbers --

ADAMS: And, Sanjay, I just want to say --

GUPTA: Go ahead.

ADAMS: -- I just want to say thank you to the people who participated in these trials.

And when Tony and I -- we worked a lot with these companies. When we asked people why did you participate in these trials, people of color, they consistently said, because I've seen the impact that this virus has had on our communities. That is why we wanted to participate and get this vaccine for you.

And so what I say to the people out there is, there are many brave people from your own communities who stepped up to make this possible and what would be a real shame is if we had a tool to end this pandemic, to end this tragedy but it was not equitably taken up by society.

GUPTA: No doubt. I mean, I think that is -- that is precisely the reason that we're here tonight.

And let me show some of the numbers that Dr. Fauci was just talking about with regard to the FDA trial. You can see sort of the proportions. In the Pfizer trial, 9.1 percent of the participants were black. In Moderna trial, data shows that 9.7 percent of participants were black.

You talk about this, Dr. Fauci, but I'm curious, do you try and get a participation rate that is equitable with the percentage in the population or in terms of the burden of disease? We know black Americans were much more affected by this.

How do you -- how do you make that determination?

FAUCI: Well, Sanjay, I wanted to -- and we were pushing, didn't quit get there. I wanted it to be representative of the burden of disease, in other words over and above the actual demographic representation in the population. We did not quite get there, but I wanted to get at least to the relative proportion that is in the population.

But as you said, the burden of disease not only of the likelihood of getting infected because of the nature of the jobs that minorities have, they're out there in the community, they're doing the essential jobs that put them to be exposed.

They have a double whammy because once they do get infected, they have a degree and a relative incidence and prevalence of the underlying comorbidities, which make it likely for them to have a serious outcome once they are infected, which, as Jerome said, is an extra special reason of why we have to get the minority community vaccinated, not only for their own health, the health of their families, but the health of their community. It's essential. They have a greater burden of disease.

It would be a terrible shame if the history of the -- the difficulties in the past that Jerome mentioned, that if that keeps people of color, brown and black people, from not getting vaccinated. So, you may see Jerome and I out there talking to black churches, talking to individuals of various minority groups, essentially pleading with them to ask us the questions of what is it that might make them hesitant. And if they are hesitant, how can we explain to them based on the data why it's essential for them to get vaccinated.

LEMON: Surgeon General, Arlene (ph) in Virginia has a question for you via video. Here it is.


QUESTION: Should people who already had COVID-19 get the vaccine? And can you get COVID-19 twice?


LEMON: Surgeon general?

ADAMS: That -- that is a fantastic question, and the answer is yes, you can get COVID-19 twice. There have been several cases of that documented. And yes, people who have had COVID-19 should get the vaccine because right now, we know that the antibodies that you generate after you've been infected start to decrease after about three months. They've seen that in the laboratory.

We don't know if that means the immunity goes away or not, but again, some people have been infected twice. And we also in the studies had people who have been previously infected who got vaccinated.

So we know it's safe. We want you to be protected.


If you have questions, ultimately you should talk to your health care provider before you get vaccinated. But yes, Arlene (ph), it is safe, and, yes, we recommend it.

LEMON: All right. Dr. Fauci, Surgeon General Adams, we got to take a short break here, but I want to stick around because the audience has a lot more questions for you.

And later, we'll meet two people doing hard work in communities helping vaccinate against vaccine hesitancy, sometimes just by listening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: As we welcome you back to our global town hall, take a good look at the numbers on your screen right now. Native Americans who have died due to the virus do so at a 2.6 times rate of whites. And for blacks and Hispanics, that number -- that same number is 2.8, Sanjay.

GUPTA: And these numbers, I mean, they are stark. They are disproportionate. And it's, frankly, the reason that we're here tonight.

Joined again by Doctors Anthony Fauci and Jerome Adams.

LEMON: Uh-huh.

So, I want to get right back to the question submitted by your viewers. This one is especially important given the stats we just saw about the Latinx community and COVID cases in this country.

Dr. Fauci, this is from Raul in Texas. And Raul asks: What about illegal immigrants? They need vaccines too. Is the government going to provide for them as well? If not free, maybe a low cost -- at a low cost so that they can afford it too.

Also, many of them are scared to receive it because of the database the government is trying to keep with their personal information, Dr. Fauci.

FAUCI: Yes. They should definitely be receiving vaccines and they should not be recriminations against them, in other words using the vaccine situation to get them identified if they're undocumented. This is a disease. These people are here, they're part of the country, and this is something that involves the entire country.

I mean, if you look at the map of the country, the heat map that shows the places that are hot spots, it doesn't make any difference on the map saying someone's undocumented or not. We got to protect everyone here in this country because we're all in this together.


So, to me, it would be certainly the need to vaccinate these individuals.

GUPTA: I appreciate the clarity on that, Dr. Fauci.

ADAMS: That is completely our intent.

We need to make sure everyone can get vaccinated, and everyone can get vaccinated with as few barriers as possible. Cost should not be a barrier.

And I just promise to the American people and to everyone in America, whether you're documented or not, that I and we on the task force will do everything within our power to make sure you can get vaccinated with no barriers. That's the right thing to do for you. That's the right thing to do for our nation. GUPTA: Dr. Adams, Steve in New York has another question, this video


Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any medication considerations that should prevent one from taking the vaccine?


GUPTA: Dr. Adams?

ADAMS: That is a great -- that's a great question.

If you have had COVID, and you have received the monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for COVID -- which, by the way, not enough people are getting, and we need more patients to ask about them, and we need more doctors to give monoclonal antibodies to people who've been diagnosed with COVID early -- then we recommend that you wait at least 90 days before you get vaccinated.

But the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor before you get vaccinated. They will go through certain questions.

You saw this morning, when I got vaccinated, they asked me if I was on blood thinners. That's not a contraindication to the COVID vaccine. But if they're going to put a needle in you, they want to know if you have been on blood thinners, for instance.

They will ask you normal questions. Talk to your doctor if there's anything that you have particular concerns about.

LEMON: Dr. Fauci, the next question is one in text form, OK? And it's from Akil.

Akil writes: "Do any of the studies include the impact on other illnesses, such as sickle cell?"

FAUCI: When you say -- the effect of the vaccine on sickle cell?

Is that what you're asking? Is that...

LEMON: Mm-hmm, "the impact on other illnesses, such as sickle cell," yes.


The vaccine, no. I mean, if you want to get vaccinated, you want to get vaccinated to protect you against COVID. If you have an underlying disease, you still might not get necessarily a very robust response, but it is worth getting vaccinated, because, if you look at the chart of those diseases that predispose you to a more severe outcome of COVID, sickle cell is one of them.

So, individuals with sickle cell should, in fact, get vaccinated.

LEMON: Let me follow up on this, because are there preexisting conditions, Dr. Fauci, that would preclude someone from getting this vaccine?

FAUCI: Well, actually not.

I mean, if you -- if you were -- if this were a live, attenuated vaccine, which is one that would replicate a bit in you, you would be concerned that, if someone had an immunosuppressed disease, a disease that either alters and suppresses the immune system or a medication that you were on that suppressed the immune system, you would be reluctant to have someone have a live attenuated vaccine.

But when you have a vaccine that is essentially a protein, namely, a gene that codes for the particular protein, in this case, the spike protein, an underlying condition might mean you don't get as robust a response, but it's not a contraindication, so that you should not get the vaccine.

GUPTA: And so, for example, someone who's got a weakened immune system or is immunocompromised, is that what you're referring to, Dr. Fauci, that it wouldn't necessarily be unsafe?

FAUCI: That's -- yes.

GUPTA: They may just not get a -- the same response?

FAUCI: Exactly. Exactly, Sanjay.

You have to separate safety and the likelihood that you will get a good response to the vaccine. It is not unsafe for someone who has an immunodeficiency to get vaccinated. They may not, in fact, make as robust an immune response.

But, in my mind, it's better than not getting vaccinated at all.

GUPTA: Yes, I get a lot of questions about that.

And, Surgeon General Dr. Adams, Matthew in Atlanta, has a question as well. This is a text question.

And he asks: "If individuals in the black community have not yet received their seasonal flu shot, is it safe to receive both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccination at the same time when the vaccine is available?"

ADAMS: That is a wonderful question, Matthew.

Right now, the FDA recommends that you get those vaccines 14 days apart. And here's the reason why.

If you have a reaction after one of the vaccines, and you get them both at the same time, we're not going to know whether it was a reaction to the COVID vaccine or to the flu vaccine. So, that's the reason we want you to have it 14 days apart. But, again, we're vaccinating health care workers and older people

first, because we want to immunize for the greatest impact. That means you should be getting your flu vaccine now.


Anyone who didn't get your flu vaccine, I want you to know a half-a- million people are hospitalized for the flu every single year. And we can't afford, with our hospitals at 100 percent capacity in many places across the nation, to have a half-a-million people in hospital beds with flu this year.

So, one thing you can do to help our health care workers out like Sandra, who talked to you earlier so passionately and compassionately, is to get your flu shot now, so that you have that 14-day window taken care of when it's your turn to get your COVID vaccine.

LEMON: Dr. Fauci, this is Chris from San Antonio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question about the coronavirus vaccine is if the vaccine will affect male fertility.

My wife and I will be trying to have a baby next year. And we were wondering if it would affect male fertility or if it would cause any harm to my wife or the baby if she were to become pregnant.


LEMON: Doctor?

FAUCI: Yes, there -- yes, there is absolutely no biological reason at all that the vaccine and the mechanism whereby it works should have any impact or any negative effect at all on fertility.

LEMON: Is that something they even looked at, at the trials? Is that part of the...

FAUCI: No, that's not. That's not part of the trial.

But you have to have a biological plausibility that it might have something to do with facility. I mean, we do a lot of different animal studies. Nothing comes up that would even make you suspect that it would have a problem with fertility.

LEMON: What about breast-feeding? We got a lot of questions about that, women breast-feeding. Should they hold off on getting this vaccine, Dr. Fauci?

FAUCI: Well, it has not been tested in breast-feeding women or in pregnant women. We will be doing those tests now.

I mean, that's the same question that we have. When you do the types of tests that we did with the 30,000 people that were in the Moderna study and the 44,000 people that were in the Pfizer study, you don't do it in pregnant women or in children until you get a certain amount of information from the studies of safety and efficacy in the adult.

Once you do, then you go back and do phase 1 and phase 2-A studies both in children and in pregnant women, including individuals post- pregnancy who are breast-feeding.

So, we don't have that information yet, but we will get that information.

LEMON: Great.

GUPTA: Surgeon General, we got another video question. Take a listen.


DR. ANNE TREASURE, OBSTETRICIAN: Hi. I'm Dr. Anne Treasure. And I am an obstetrician in Saint Croix in the United States Virgin Islands.

Refrigeration is challenging for us here in the Tropics. If someone first gets the Pfizer vaccine, and then has access to Moderna, would that substitute and be considered full immunity?

And my second question is, if someone discovers that they're pregnant after having had the first dose, should they wait for the second dose until they're after three months along? Or should they not have the vaccine for the rest of the pregnancy?


GUPTA: It's a great question, Dr. Adams.

ADAMS: So, great questions, great questions.

Let me go backwards. There were women in the trials that got pregnant during the trials. And so, right now, we do recommend that people continue to get vaccinated. But always, always talk to your health care provider, to your obstetrician if you have questions about what you should do, because you want to make a choice that you're comfortable with, that your obstetrician is comfortable with, that's right with you.

As far as the doses, many people know the Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at minus-70. The Moderna vaccine can be kept at much more normal temperatures. And the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose vaccine that can be kept at normal temperatures also.

So, that is the reason Operation Warp Speed really has embraced all of these vaccines, because we know some of them will be better for some situations, and some will be better for others.

I was in Montana just last week, and they have some very rural communities. And these rural communities were waiting for the Moderna vaccine. And they're cheering right now with the EUA that was approved -- authorized by the FDA today, because it will be easier to get that vaccine out to those rural areas, without the cold chain storage requirements. But you cannot stack one on top of another. If you get the Pfizer for

the first dose, you need Pfizer for second. Moderna for first dose, then you need Moderna for the second.

And we're going to make sure we're working with states and with different regions to get them the vaccine that is going to work best for their population and their ability to store it.

GUPTA: Great.


So, listen, we have a bunch of questions from viewers. I'm going to go through a lot of them here.

But I want to ask you, Dr. Fauci.

And I hope, the surgeon general, that you can respond to also as well.

This is from Michelle.


And it reads this. It says: "No one can blame black Americans for their skepticism. Many people, not just black Americans, get their information and support and cues from ministers, youth leaders and fellow parishioners. We need to get opinion leaders in churches to buy in and publicly receive the vaccine. Can you provide personal accounts of older Black Americans who participated in the vaccine trials?"

First to you, the surgeon general. You both touched on this earlier, but first, Surgeon General, and then from Dr. Fauci.

ADAMS: Absolutely. As Dr. Fauci said, we spent every single Saturday for the last several months working with these vaccine manufacturers, all of them, to make sure they had adequate enrollment in their trials, older people, younger people, Black people, white people, Hispanic people. There is a very good representation in these trials, including of older people.

And what I'm really excited about and I'm so glad she said that, is that I talked to Imam Masjid, from one of the biggest mosques in the Washington, D.C., area just last night. I talked to Representative Hank Johnson from Georgia today, who just got his vaccination. I tweeted it out because I was so proud of him. There are older people out there who are getting vaccinated and setting an example for the people who follow them because, you're right, they're not always going to listen to the government.

We know they'll listen to their health care providers. We know they'll listen to their faith leaders. We know they'll listen to their representatives in their communities. And that's who we're working with.

LEMON: And, Dr. Fauci, you already talked about this earlier. You mentioned that you had been out talking to faith leaders as well. And you said your Black brothers and sisters to get out there and get the vaccine.

FAUCI: You bet, you bet, Don. And I've done that, and I think it's really important. I've spoken to the Black Presbyterian Church in Boston which has a large number of followers. They did one of those online chats that I had with them. And, boy, there were just thousands and thousands and thousands of people listening.

And I encouraged, just as we said, to get the Black leaders out there to provide an example. You know, I just want to repeat again, in my mind, it would be painful to all of us as physicians, scientists, and public health individuals if the Black and brown people don't get vaccinated because of the lingering distrust, for reasons that were justified, as Jerome says. You can't run away from that.

But it would be doubly tragic if because of that you don't get vaccinated and you don't protect yourselves, your family, and your community. This is a golden opportunity to do that, to turn around those disparities that have really plagued us for such a long period of time. We can do it by getting a large segment of the population vaccinated, protecting themselves and their community. It's really critical that we do that.

LEMON: Well, doctors, thank you so much, both of you...

ADAMS: And, Sanjay, Don, don't you have Dr. Montgomery Rice coming on soon?



LEMON: Well, you're stealing our thunder, Dr. Adams.


ADAMS: Well, we've worked with her. She's fantastic.

LEMON: She's fantastic, we're going to talk to her.

ADAMS: She's one of my favorite people. For those of you who don't know, she is the president of Morehouse School of Medicine. And we've been working with the HBCUs, the Historically Black College and University presidents. We've been working with the Divine Nine, which are the presidents of the African American fraternities and sororities. Again, these are gatekeepers, and we're working with them to instill confidence in them so that they can instill confidence in the people who follow them.

So many of the HBCU presidents actually volunteered for drug trials, participated in these vaccine trials. So shout out to the president of Xavier who actually was in one of these trials.

LEMON: Yes. Well, Sanjay, he just about gave away our next segment, so.

GUPTA: I know. That was the tease. LEMON: He did our job for us.

GUPTA: There you go, thank you.

LEMON: No, we're so happy that both of you could be here. And we appreciate your passion and we thank you both for setting an example. Thanks so much.

GUPTA: Doctors, thank you so much. And by the way...

ADAMS: Keep the questions coming. We want to get you the answers.

LEMON: Amen.

GUPTA: Well, we will. And thank you so much for being here. I think your voices go a long way. I mean, this is a significant problem. And I should point out as well, Dr. Fauci is going to be back with me tomorrow morning answering questions from kids and their families about the vaccine and celebrating the holidays safely this year. It's called "The ABCs of COVID-19," tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

By the way, Don, nobody one works harder than Dr. Fauci.


GUPTA: I mean, my goodness, he really puts us all to shame. So every time I think I'm working hard, I think of Dr. Fauci.


GUPTA: Thank you, sir.

LEMON: No way. Dr. Fauci and Wolf Blitzer. Thank you, I appreciate it.

And just ahead, the reverend who was part of that chat and the Boston doctor Dr. Fauci just mentioned, right? So, we've got a lot to come.

GUPTA: Yes. And later, as you saw me talking about the -- taking the Pfizer vaccine earlier today...

LEMON: There he is.

GUPTA: ... I'm going to talk about the -- there it is, yes. What do you think? I'm going to talk about that with one of my colleagues who was alongside me for that injection.



LEMON: So welcome back to our global town hall. Before we continue on, I just want to play an excerpt from a piece filed by CNN's Jason Carroll, reporting from majority Black town in rural Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most of those who live in Hobson City are African American, distrust of the medical community runs deep. The town, located about 100 miles from Tuskegee, Alabama, home to one of the darkest chapters in American medical history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like -- it's almost to me like a fear. Like, I have a phobia of needles, I'm almost at the point where I have a phobia of doctors.

CARROLL: Carmen Bailey (ph) was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April. Bailey says he avoided medical help because she feels she has been poorly treated by doctors in the past. Now the grandmother of three suffers from adverse effects with her heart, lungs, and kidneys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some days I can barely walk. And I'm tired of hurting. I don't know what to do.

CARROLL: What she will not do is take a vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know any kind of side effects from them, so I just really feel like at this point its people that's going to take that vaccine is guinea pigs.

CARROLL (on camera): You really think they're guinea pigs?



GUPTA: That was CNN's Jason Carroll reporting.

And, you know, as we've mentioned throughout the hour, vaccine hesitancy is a real problem in America, especially in the Black community. And that's doubly tragic, Don, as you know, because they're also among the hardest hit by this pandemic. Mistrust of the government, as Jerome Adams was talking about, it's certainly not without merit, you know, as we've heard.

LEMON: Yes. So, let's discuss now, I want to bring in Dr. Ala Stanford, the founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. She is a pediatric surgeon. And Reverend Liz Walker, senior pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church near Boston.

Thank you both for joining.

Reverend, first question, what are you hearing from members of your congregation, considering the legacy, what you heard from in Jason Carroll's piece? What are you hearing from them?

REV. LIZ WALKER, SENIOR PASTOR, ROXBURY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: People are still very resistant in our community. They are listening. They are asking questions, as your viewers have been asking tonight. But it's going to take a lot. It's going to take a lot. I think minds are slowly changing just a little bit, at least in the anecdotal kinds of polls that I've been taking, but people still have a great deal of resistance. GUPTA: Dr. Stanford, good to speak to you again. I know that last time

we talked, you've been trying to educate people about the vaccine on the ground there in Philadelphia, which also happens to be a state where the virus is really out of control, right now at the same time.


So, what are -- what are you hearing? Do you feel like you're getting through when you're having these conversations?

DR. ALA STANFORD, FOUNDER, BLACK DOCTORS, COVID-19 CONSORTIUM: I do, and I think we can try to coerce or convince or persuade. But we have to listen and listen. It's usually fear or lack of knowledge for why people don't want to receive the vaccine. And once we listen, then we educate.

And I just simply ask the question, are you at greater risk of dying from coronavirus or are you at greater risk of dying from the vaccine? And when most people look at it that way, the choice is the simple choice. And the safe there is to receive a vaccine.

And you know I've been on the front lines since April. We tested over 20,000 people. And one of the things that would help is that we still need more testing.

So, we are in the midst of setting records every day. And yes, we're talking about a bright light. But still, every person who needs a test cannot. And that is still true in Philadelphia, and across our nation.

LEMON: Reverend Walker, another question for you. The importance of people seeing faith leaders doing outreach and getting this -- I'm curious as to what you think. How important is it to see it?

WALKER: I think it's critical for people to see people in their own community, some other community leaders, and certainly, faith leaders are at the top of that list. Though, there is, you know, some distrust there.

But I think mostly, mainly, faith leaders are the ones. We have to step out there. We have to tell our congregation. We have to take the test. We have to show that we're willing to take the vaccine.

And that's happening. That's happening church, to church, to church. But my message is to churches, because, you know, if we don't step out and take the lead, it's taking a leap of faith if you will, then we can't expect our parishioners, our congregation to do so.

So, it is important, but it's happening.

LEMON: Dr, Stanford, Reverend Walker, thank you so much. Your message is very important, and I'm sorry we don't have more time. But we want to have you back, and we're going to continue this conversation as you know.

Sanjay and Anderson, they do this every single week, and we continue to provide what we think is a service for the American people, really for the world since we are broadcasting worldwide.

Thank you so much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

WALKER: Thank you.

GUPTA: Right now as I mentioned earlier, I got the vaccine this morning as a health care worker, as did someone else, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice. She was sitting right next to me. She actually went first. Take a look.


DR. VALERIE MONTGOMERY RICE, PRESIDENT, MOREHOUSE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: That's it? It's a piece of cake. Oh, all right. Oh, now, seriously.

GUPTA: You're afraid of needles? That wasn't so bad.

MONTGOMERY RICE: No, no, no, she is good. Thank you. All right, she has a new job.

GUPTA: You know, it really does strike me that it's such an amazing scientific feat.

MONTGOMERY RICE: Oh, my goodness.

GUPTA: And yet such a mundane act.

MONTGOMERY RICE: Right, yeah. Yeah, I mean, that was -- that was a piece of cake.


GUPTA: I am ready. Thank you.

I really -- I really feel good about today. I have to tell you.

MONTGOMERY RICE: We are making progress, to be able to do this at Grady, as we call it, The Grady. I trained here. It's one of the highlights of my career, to be able come back here and to continue advancement at Grady. So, I'm really excited to this.

GUPTA: I, by the way, as a surgeon, I'm also a bit afraid of needles.

MONTGOMERY RICE: Yeah, and it's scary, yeah. You're not wincing at all.

GUPTA: Is it in?


GUPTA: It's done? You are really good.

MONTGOMERY RICE: Oh, yeah, that's good, that's good.

GUPTA: Thank you very much.


GUPTA: Thanks a lot for jabbing somebody.

MONTGOMERY RICE: I mean, seriously!

GUPTA: Thank you very much, Mary Katherine.



LEMON: You should take that on the road, man. That was great.

GUPTA: Got wild to watch.

And Dr. Montgomery Rice, we were together earlier this morning doing that.

First of all, we just saw you, you get the vaccine. How are you -- how are you feeling?

MONTGOMERY RICE: I'm feeling fine. My arm is a little bit sore, but nothing like when I get the flu vaccine. So, I was actually feeling pretty good.

GUPTA: I felt the same thing.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that, because I got the flu vaccine this year, Doctor, and I was sore for a while. It's gone away now, but I mean, that's all part of it. That was one of my questions. I was wondering if there are health care professionals, especially doctors who are afraid of needles. And you guys answered my question.

MONTGOMERY RICE: Yeah, we both -- the sad thing is that we're both surgeons also. That's very sad.

LEMON: We have been talking throughout the hour about the hesitancy in our community to, you know, getting this vaccine, a community that has been really hit particularly hard by the virus.

Why was it important for you to be seen publicly doing this, Doctor?

MONTGOMERY RICE: You know, it was really about building confidence in the community, to let them see that we were willing to -- I was willing to take this vaccine because I felt it was safe, and I wanted to have the benefit of it. And I want our community to have the benefit.


You know, we've had so many stories, that we continue to relive them about the mistrust in the medical field. And we know that it goes beyond this vaccine. And we know a lot of intercultural issues are at play here. But we really want to get people to move from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine acceptance. And I really thought by doing this live with Sanjay Gupta, who is one of the most respected physicians in the country --

GUPTA: Thank you.

MONTGOMERY RICE: -- and that may really change people's minds.

GUPTA: Thank you for saying that. That's very nice of you to say, Dr. Rice.

I want to show you something that surprised me. We'll show this graphic of -- you're talking about vaccine hesitancy, but among health care workers, at Grady, where we have the vaccination.

About a third, a third, a third. A third said they would get it. A third said they wouldn't. And a third said they need more information.

I was surprised because they're heath care workers and they cast a scientific eye typically towards making these decisions. Were you surprised?

MONTGOMERY RICE: I was surprised. But, you know, again, they, too, have lived these stories that, you know, the history of what's happening in the -- with black people, in the country before, and then, now, you hear about Warp Speed. And people are trying to connect all of that.

And so, one of the things we know is that the trusted relationship between a patient and her physician or his physician is still really critical.

And so, one of the things you might have heard earlier this week, at Morehouse School of Medicine announced that we were going to be announcing. And part of that is, with the partnership with CommonSpirit Health, was because we think we need more black physicians in the country, more physicians from underserved communities that will go back and practice in those communities, and build that level of trust, that trusted relationship between black patients, all patients and their providers.

LEMON: Well, I have to say, seeing both of you, seriously, I think maybe you should take your friend, but seeing you guys get it, and your reaction to it, I think it really helped a lot of people. It certainly helped me.

Dr. Montgomery Rice, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you, Doctor.


LEMON: Sanjay, thank you, too. It's always a pleasure to work with you. And I agree with her, you are one of the most respected doctors, if not the, in the country, especially for us, you are for us here at CNN. GUPTA: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: And we want to thank Dr. Anthony Fauci as well, and the surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams. As well as Dr. Ala Stanford and Reverend Liz Walker. And Sandra Lindsay as well.

Also, thanks to those of you who wrote in with your questions and to everyone who joined us here tonight. If you didn't get your question answered tonight, the conversation will continue. It continues at

The news continues right after this break.

See you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: See you, Don. Thank you.