An Interview with Pastor and Dr. Chris Sylvain


An Interview with Pastor and Dr. Chris Sylvain




Leadership in Medicine Amid a Pandemic


Dr. Chris Sylvain, President and Owner of Best Life Pharmacy and Restaurant, discusses the founding of the Christian Vaccine Access Coalition and reflects on being in medicine amid modern healthcare and COVID-19.


Zaynab Al-Rashed


My Nola, My Story via YouTube


Mass Communication Department at Xavier University of Louisiana


03 May 2021


Zaynab Al-Rashed


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2021






A Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana's Mass Communication Department students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format


Intro (music)

Zaynab Al-Rashed: So just as a brief introduction, can you talk to us a little bit more about the whole Christian Vaccine Access Coalition and your inspiration when founding the Christian Vaccine Access Coalition?

Dr. Chris Sylvain: Well, so it's my father-in-law; and he, you know, on dialysis, we were thinking, he should be first in line (because he was early on in his 80s). So, they weren’t able to...uh... set him up for a vaccine. They told him to go to Ochsner’s and Touro; and then Touro didn’t have anything. So that was a problem. We had already lost his wife - we had already lost my mother-in-law and so the challenge of trying to find out who vaccines was insurmountable. And we’re thinking: My wife’s a social worker; I am a pharmacist… If we are having trouble, imagine what everybody else is going through. And we need this vaccine to live. So, um, what we decided was, we sent out an email - and Tynesia* was on the email (I included her because I know she’s always interested in helping out) - to see who would be interested in helping make calls to find out who has vaccines. Because that’s what we had to do; find out who has vaccines. We got a great response. You know, it started out with the church where people really wanted to help out. So, uh, we set up a website and people have been able to call and find out - or just check the website - and it’s made a difference. So that’s the Christian Vaccine Access Coalition and uh, I think they call it CVAC or something like that.

Zaynab Al-Rashed: Thank you so much for that! What are some suggestions you have going forward from the pandemic as a community pharmacist for someone who’s interested in future healthcare?

Dr. Chris Sylvain: Disparities have been in place way before COVID but it highlighted it in a way that, I don't think many of the things we’ll be able to do. Because even for vaccine acces, those that had power and access were able to get to the vaccine. Those without power and access haven’t been able to as much. We see some big disparities there. And so, pharmacy/ pharmacists, right in the community must realize that we have to do more than dispense drugs; but have relationships with people where we can create systems, where we can create mechanisms where people can be helped. And, I don’t think pharmacy has looked at it that way, I don’t think medicine has looked at it that way.

Zaynab Al-Rashed: In the future, do you think that this is a problem that can be resolved? Or do you believe that the issue of vaccine nationalism or medicine becoming more of like um, a competition, a nationalist sense of pride rather than, you know, a science that is distributed for the benefit of the people - Do you think that will be an issue in future decades or do you think that future generations maybe do have the power to resolve this and how?

Dr. Chris Sylvain: Oh, yeah I’m very very hopeful. One, if we look at things historically; uh you know, one is things are bad. The good thing is that we are at a point where it becomes intolerable - the systems that we have right now. And so, change is coming; we’re in the middle of change and I think that people who care about people...again, we all have to believe the same thing, we all have to… we can be individuals that come from all walks of life, alright, and still care. We can join together in unity and say that we care. And we’re not gonna block ourselves off; we wanna help people. And so, I believe that is coming; I see so much hope because people are tired of, you know, those who are attempting to only take care of their own and not take care of humanity. You know, it’s over and over again, that people are about sick and tired of it. And I see a movement where people are saying: No, we are not gonna take it anymore..

Zaynab Al-Rashed: One last question to wrap up because I do understand that you’re busy...You’re very much, Dr. Sylvain, a leader in not only your personal community but in the New Orleans community as well. And, I was wondering what advice would you give to people who are inspired by the work that you and the leadership initiative that you have taken?

Dr. Chris Sylvain: The advice that I would give would be to care. I think caring drives everything; selfishness is a disease. It really, really is. Selfishness is a horrible disease that hurts people; it locks people in. But if we can be content, recognize that we can’t hog everything, and care about others...caring creates leadership. That’s all leaders do; leaders are the ones that care. Caring, and than being able to communicate; that's critical. You know, to care and communicate. And the inspiration has to be to care and communicate and multiply that; reach others to help them learn how to care and communicate. And each one teach one.

Zaynab Al-Rashed: Thank you so much for your time Dr. Sylvain, this has truly been an honor…

Outro (music)

*Tynesia: Tynesia Fields, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator; Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education - Xavier University of Louisiana
Disclaimer: The following interview has been cut for the purpose of uploading.


06: 37




Zaynab Al-Rashed


Zaynab Al-Rashed


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Date Added
May 3, 2021
Item Type
Moving Image
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Zaynab Al-Rashed , “An Interview with Pastor and Dr. Chris Sylvain,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed June 25, 2022,