By Ashley Moss
Local and state officials gathered all across the region on January 7th with a special message for DFW residents: Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
But vaccine hesitancy is high and trust—particularly among Black Americans—is low.
“We’ve had representation (about the vaccine) at the table,” said West, referring to Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the African American woman who led the team that formulated the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “She will go down in history as a scientist involved with putting together this vaccine.”
State Senator Royce West was joined by other DFW area lawmakers on Zoom Thursday morning to publicly show their support for the now available vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus. State Representative Victoria Neave, State Representative, Chairman Rafael Anchía and other members of the Dallas County delegation also joined the call.
West said the vaccine was not a political decision, but a “human issue” that everyone needed to consider. “Please take the vaccine,” he emphasized during the call. “You see what’s going on around the state, around the country and around the world.”
The senator who received the vaccine Wednesday in Austin, said that while he felt “light-headed for a few minutes,” immediately after receiving the vaccine, he was otherwise “feeling ok.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicated that people don’t typically have any serious side effects from vaccines in general, but there are some common side effects, including soreness where the shot was given or light headaches—that are usually mild and go away quickly on their own.
Public support for the vaccine comes as the rates for positive cases across North Texas and the state continue to spike. For the third day in a row Wednesday Dallas County reported record high hospitalizations, with 2,427 new, positive 2019 Novel Coronavirus cases. With the rapidly rising cases, Senator West urged people to consider that the benefits could outweigh the risks.
“We know that they are still looking at clinical trials to see how long the vaccine will last,” he added. “But what I can tell you, is that you will have a better opportunity to weather this storm if you take the vaccine than if you don’t take it, given the number of cases that are going around.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, who received the first dose of the vaccine at UT Southwestern Medical Center Thursday said that it’s easy to understand why there is hesitation in communities of color.
“Our nation has an awful and reprehensible history of medical experimentation on African Americans,” he said, citing that lack of access to adequate health care also played a major role in the reluctance or refusal to get vaccinated.
“While the vaccine was developed in record time it has been tested in all types of people,” he added Thursday. “These vaccines are safe, they have been proven effective and they will allow us to return to normal.”
Heightened news of the vaccine also came Thursday with the announcement of a COVID Vaccine “Megasite,” expected to open Monday at Fair Park in Dallas. Fair Park will be open for appointment-only vaccinations but doses will not be available to the general public or for walk-ups.
“We are working feverishly to get the sites open that will increase vaccination to our 1B population next week,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins in a prepared statement. “It will be an effort led by Dallas County but with the help of EMTs from all of our cities.”
Jenkins said the key to successfully getting the vaccine would be found in an extra measure of both diligence and patience and he urged local residents to give the process time.
“[Be] patient in understanding that there’s not enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone immediately but diligent in making sure you sign up for the registration list and any other list that you may be entitled to be a part of such as with your healthcare provider,” he added. Eligible residents must register for the vaccine using a website provided by the county. To register, click here.