Former HHS leader says no link between Hank Aaron’s death and COVID vaccine

Morehouse School of Medicine Dawn-Marie Aime, left, gathers information from Hank Aaron, seated left, before administering the first of two Moderna Covid-19 vaccines Tuesday, January 5, 2021 while former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, right, prepares for his vaccine.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Morehouse School of Medicine Dawn-Marie Aime, left, gathers information from Hank Aaron, seated left, before administering the first of two Moderna Covid-19 vaccines Tuesday, January 5, 2021 while former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, right, prepares for his vaccine. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan sat next to Hank Aaron three weeks ago when they got their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Sullivan, who watched part of Aaron’s funeral service Wednesday, said he’s frustrated by social media chatter suggesting the baseball legend’s death was related to the vaccination.

“That is absolutely wrong,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “This vaccine is a positive. Hank Aaron did not die because of the vaccine.”

ExploreHealth experts urge confidence in vaccine after superstar’s death

Aaron, the Braves legend and Atlanta icon, died on Friday at the age of 86. His death was listed natural causes by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office. According to the Medical Examiner, no autopsy was performed on Aaron.

“I think we’ve lost a great person,” Sullivan said of Aaron.

Aaron, Sullivan and others got inoculated in front of reporters on Jan. 5 to encourage other Georgians, particularly African Americans, to get vaccinated. African Americans have disproportionately tested positive and died from COVID-19, research shows.

Sullivan was HHS Secretary from 1989 to 1993, the first African American to serve in that position. Sullivan, also a former Morehouse School of Medicine president, is involved in an effort with African American religious leaders in Atlanta and other parts of the country to convince Black people to get vaccinated.

In Other News