Landefeld web0572Dr. Latesha Elopre, Assistant Professor of the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases receives her COVID-19 vaccine. 

Concern: The U.S. healthcare system, past and present, has been known to disproportionately harm Black and Latinx communities. 
Response: Latesha Elopre, MD, MSPH  

How do you respond to people who mistrust the medical establishment that produced this vaccine?

I admit that I had some hesitation about the vaccine myself. My family is from Georgia, and my grandparents were sharecroppers. I have personal experience dealing with racist systems, and with that, there is a natural hesitation. As physicians and scientists, we mustn’t be upset when people come to us with skepticism, though. We have to be patient and do our best to answer questions, explain the science, and set an example for others to follow.

Do you recommend the vaccine to people of color?

Yes. The impact of COVID-19 is primarily in communities of color, so I feel like we have to act now. This is not a moment where we can hesitate with this vaccine. In my own family, my mom has a history of strokes, so she was in a high-risk group. I had multiple conversations with her about the vaccine, explaining the data behind why it’s important. I am happy and proud that she was able to overcome her hesitancy, and she got vaccinated.

How did the vaccine affect you, personally?

I actually hate shots! It is something I dread every year when flu season comes around. But after my first dose, I cried with relief and gratitude. It’s been overwhelming having seen so many suffer alone, not just patients, but in my own family. And my side effects from the first dose were tolerable. I was pretty tired, and I got a headache and had some chills. But it only lasted a day, then I was better. I was more tired and sleepy after the second dose, but I kept looking at the big picture. I was willing to have those side effects, rather than becoming infected, or experiencing long-term side effects from COVID infection, or worse, passing away of COVID.

For additional information about the COVID vaccine, and another powerful perspective on vaccine hesitancy, watch the January 9 interview with NIH viral immunologist Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the Black female scientist at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development.

As always, stay tuned to #UABUnited and UAB Medicine for official updates on COVID safety and vaccination progress.

Note: This series is intended for those in our community who have reservations about getting “the shot.” These five articles from UAB Department of Medicine highlight a member of our DOM family, and how they have answered these commone concerns about COVID-19 vaccine for themselves and for their patients.