Health experts say a smaller percentage of the African American population is receiving the shot, even as vaccination numbers become more available. Only 27% of vaccines administered in Mississippi have gone to African Americans, compared to 65% to whites.
There are many still hesitant to get the shot, but others have overcome those worries.
Whitney Sutton, Memorial Hospital at Gulfport’s ICU manager, has seen firsthand what COVID-19 can do. However, although Sutton has been a registered nurse for 11 years, she also hesitated to take the vaccine when it first became available.
“I had my own reservations at first as well,” Sutton said. “It was one of those things that I’m working in the field and yes, I’m ready for this to be over with and we all need to get vaccinated. But on the other side of this, you don’t want to feel like a test, and I think sometimes in the African American community, we may feel like that.”
The death of a friend inspired one of Sutton’s co-workers to make sure every member of his family get vaccinated.
“My friend Chris died of COVID, and that hit pretty hard,” said Randy Lampley, Director of Biomedical Engineering at MHG. “And when I saw the text from one of my brothers being hesitant to take that shot, well I sent him that story about Chris Anthony, my friend of 31 plus years has just died of COVID. Take the damn shot, you know. He got the shot. And my mom is going to take the shot as well, so all of my brothers and sisters are either scheduled to or have had that first shot.”
For Lampley, it’s a moment to celebrate. “It’s just a relief whenever a friend or a family member, you find out they got the shot it’s almost like a high-five time,” said Lampley. “Hey, congratulations. Yeah, when are you going to get the second one and all that.”
Sherri Houston, an MHG Emergency Department RN, said she was hesitant to get the vaccine when it first came out. “I’ve gone to my primary doctor and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on it,” said Houston. “And I’ve done a lot of research on it on my own, to know that yes we do need to take the vaccine. That’s the only thing that’s going to alleviate this COVID virus.”