Rolling Out

Katarena Ford reveals how she convinced Alabama friends to get vaccinated

Katarena Ford reveals how she convinced Alabama friends to get vaccinated
Katarena Ford, PhD. (Photo courtesy of Katarena Ford)

Katarena Ford, PhD. was a participant in a group of the first Americans to get vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.

A graduate of Alabama State University and Auburn University, Ford went to school near Tuskegee, Alabama, the birthplace of the Tuskegee experiment, something many Black people have cited for their hesitation in taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Recently, Ford sat down with rolling out to detail how she pursued her friends and family to get vaccinated.

How did you feel when there was no vaccine versus now where there is a COVID-19 vaccine?

I was fortunate enough to stay in the house.

I worked from home, so it limited my outings to groceries and gas, but being overweight put me at a higher risk of severe COVID and hospitalizations, so I was terrified when COVID first initially hit the United States. However, once the vaccine was made available, I was happy to be vaccinated. I was ready to be like first in line.

I felt like I could breathe again after I had the vaccine, considering I didn’t have a pod. A lot of people had pods during the pandemic, I was in a new city with no family, no friends. It was just me for almost a year, so the vaccine really got my sanity back in.

How did you build the trust to take it?

I’m fortunate enough to work in the scientific community and that kind of gave me a leg up knowing the chemical makeup of the vaccine or knowing the ingredients list helped me a lot, because I was able to research every chemical compound of each vaccine, and these are available online if you go to the frequently asked questions sheets.

You can see what’s in them, but if you’re not a scientist it’s probably really hard to digest, so I went with what vaccine was best for my body type by going through the pros and the cons of what could potentially happen. Then, I confided in my primary care physician. When we sat down, we debated because it was very early on. There was not a lot of information about it, we had clinical trials, but it wasn’t like a real world experiment, where it was in your face and you knew people who got vaccinated. .. [With] my primary care physician, doing my own research and in talking to some other scientists who also worked on the vaccines, we made that decision.

How have people in and near Tuskegee felt about taking the vaccine?

A lot of people in Montgomery that I used to go to school or work with called me to get advice about taking the vaccine and there was hesitancy, which I understand. But I gave them the facts from what I researched to help them make informed decisions for themselves … I can tell you every friend or family member that has come to me for advice has gotten vaccinated.

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