MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This weekend, the City of Memphis is hosting a vaccination event at the Pipkin Building. There is music and free giveaways. From 7 am to 7 pm no appointments are needed. One young Memphian who hopes after you will hear her story you'll consider getting vaccinated yourself.
"I had herd of these new variant but I didn't think about it," said Candice Grose.
Grose quickly learned not only did she have COVID-19, she caught the UK variant, considered more contagious and more deadly.
"It was extremely scary it was the scariest thing i ever had to deal with," said Grose.
From high fevers to asthma attacks, Grose spent 18 days in the hospital fighting the virus.
"When I got to the hospital, there was a nurse that came to me and said, 'you are too young to be put on a ventilator we are going to try and do everything we can to prevent you from being put on a ventilator but that means you are really going to have to fight thru this.'" She added, she suffers after affects from the virus. "I have days where I wake up and have a burst of energy and there are days i need three naps and the frustrating thing is a I can't control it," said Grose.
The 37-year-old has now taken to social media, encouraging others --especially people of color-- to get vaccinated.
"Given the historical trauma African Americans have been through when it comes to vaccinations and shots, and DNA I had just been on the fence," said Grose. She added she doesn't want anyone to have to go thru what she just did.
"Even though the vaccination is not a cure for COVID, it will at least prevent me from being in that position or anyone being in that position I was in, in the hospital." said Grose. "I think for the African American community, we don't need to be sold on the vaccine, we need to be educated on it, and I think it's also telling that personal story I think is what is going to bring people to the point of saying 'ok I'm going to do it.'"
Grose is concerned that the recent pause of the J&J vaccine will make people of color, who are already hesitant about the vaccine, even more fearful.
"When you hear things about the J&J and people getting blood clots, that just going to work against anyone who may be on the fence," said Grose.
"This hullaballoo that surrounds J&J clearly has impact that goes beyond J&J and if you are already hesitant it's likely going to make you more hesitant so we need to continue to reach out to people who are hesitant let them know we understand and respect their hesitancy and then try and address their concerns," said Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt University Medical Center physician.
Schaffner is concerned that if the J&J isn't cleared for use soon, the vaccine hesitancy will continue to grow.
"These variants will spread among unvaccinated people, so if there are communities where there and more hesitant and therefore unvaccinated people, the variants will find those communities and spread among them," said Schaffner.
Grose says education is the best way to help people get over their fear, saying, "I think sharing that personal testimony and say 'hey I know you may be hesitant this is what happened to me, and it can happen to you.'"