Vaccines work: That is a concept that Dr. Adam Robinson wants Veterans and their family members to understand. He says medical science has long ago established that vaccines are able to protect most people from catching serious diseases like measles and whooping cough.

Robinson, who served as the 36th surgeon general of the U.S. Navy and is now director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System in Honolulu, Hawaii, knows that vaccination programs are safe and effective for most people. That is why he volunteered to participate in VA’s COVID-19 research program to test a new vaccine to combat the coronavirus.

Dr. Adam Robinson

Dr. Adam Robinson

Vaccines are an effective measure against disease

His decision to volunteer was influenced by his mentor, Dr. Eugene Weinberg, a professor of biology at Indiana University. During his medical training, Robinson learned that “infectious disease is one of those defining human experiences. The black plague, typhoid fever, smallpox… these and other diseases have substantial death rates. The way you conquer them is not only through effective public health measures, but through effective vaccination programs.”

Robinson says he has vivid memories of his father, who was a doctor, administering the polio vaccine to his brothers and sisters at home. “I’ll never forget getting the Salk vaccine. It was a shot in the arm, and it hurt. Polio was a scourge for young children at the time. In some instances it caused death.” Fortunately, none of Robinson’s siblings fell ill with polio. They had been protected through vaccination.

Equal representation in clinical trials

As a physician, Robinson realizes that equal representation in clinical trials is critically important for a successful outcome. Researchers must know if a potential vaccine is equally effective in all groups of people – Black, white, Hispanic, Native American, and others. Scientists say it is also important to know if a vaccine will successfully protect people of different ages and genders.

Robinson says he understands why people of color may hesitate to participate in medical research. There have been episodes of unethical research involving Black Americans and other minority groups in America’s past. But, he says that shouldn’t stop people from protecting themselves and their loved ones.

“I have looked at this carefully, especially from a public health point of view. I just want to encourage people to sign up, to get the vaccine. I just love what the 90-year-old grandmother in Great Britain said about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, ‘If I can, you can.’ I feel the same way, ‘If I can, you can.'”

How to sign up: Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer to participate in VA research by signing up for the COVID-19 Research Volunteer List. If you are eligible to participate in a study, you will be contacted by a study coordinator who will answer your questions and help you decide if you wish to participate.

More Information

Click here to learn more about VA research.

Click here to learn more about VA COVID-19 trials and other research endeavors.

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Published on Jan. 18, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 329


  1. Larry Parker January 24, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Since the VA is my primary care physician and the City of Chicago is starting vaccinating 65 and older how soon can I expect my vaccination or should I go to Walgreens or some other source

  2. Paul F. Fisher January 20, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    This Covid vaccine is only Emergency Authorization only. I had a severe reaction to a Flu shot. The VA says that I don’t qualify for Covid-19 shot. I am Down one diaphragm in one lung and have a skip in the heart. I am in a catch-22 situation. If I get Covid, I am almost guaranteed not to make it. I am 78 and basically have to gamble with the shot. What direction should I take?

  3. Micheal Kappes January 20, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    When is he VA going to give vaccinations for Covid-19?

  4. Russell Hall January 20, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    2013 the VA changed the rules and a number of military retirees that were promised care all of a sudden lost that care, so… as a US Navy retiree, the VA is a disgrace, prove me wrong!

  5. John Proano January 20, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    I am a 66-year-old army veteran I would like to know when and how me and my wife can get my COVID-19 vaccine thank you

  6. News January 18, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    thanks, that’s brave

Comments are closed.

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