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'You never know who you're going to save.' Austin woman's story highlights need for minorities in vaccine trials

An Austin mom says she knew Pfizer was looking for more Hispanics and wanted to participate for "the greater good."

AUSTIN, Texas — Data shows minority populations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Austin Public Health reported the Hispanic population made up nearly half of the cases in Austin-Travis County and made up about half of last week's deaths from the virus.

Vanessa Oakes said she's been watching that data. 

"Both of my parents are Hispanic, and they're older. They're 65, so they are at home all day, every day," said Oakes. "So I have been paying attention to how I had been seeing that more Hispanics and more African Americans were getting sicker and that they were in the higher percentages of the ones that were being hospitalized and dying."

Oakes said she signed up for the Pfizer vaccine trials after reading an article that said the company was looking for more Hispanics to participate. 

"I am South American, and I'm Mexican," said the Austin mom of two. "And I thought maybe that would be helpful for the greater good."

Oakes said it was reassuring to see the company working to get diverse candidates. 

"Absolutely. It's best for both sides. It's best for Pfizer to be able to get as much information as they need from as many diverse backgrounds as they can get," said Oakes. "But at the same time, it's good for the rest of us to know that they did test Asians, they did test Hispanics, they did test African Americans." 

Oakes said she believes she received the vaccine due to soreness in the injection site and a blood test showed she has the COVID-19 antibodies. 

She said she hopes people get the vaccine if it becomes available. 

"For the vaccine, I think it should be more about America as a whole rather than just yourself," said Oakes. "I think you should think about others. You should think about your friends. You should think about your family. You should definitely think about your grandparents and your parents and think about, for this vaccine, you never know who you're going to save."


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