Tennessee state Rep. Antonio Parkinson D-Memphis) has been a vaccine hold-out. But on Wednesday (Aug. 18), Parkinson took his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
“LaTonya, do I get a lollipop?” he asked Dr. LaTonya Washington, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital North.
In a conference room near the front entrance, Parkinson held court with members of the media and hospital staff as his first shot was administered.
“The reason I am doing this is because I want to encourage everyone to go and get vaccinated, and take your family members with you,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson admitted he has been among the group of African Americans who did not rush to take a vaccine because of the country’s sketchy medical history with people of color.
“I, myself, just like a lot of people of color, had concerns when the vaccination first came out,” said Parkinson. “There is a lot of history in regards to how people of color have been treated medically and with the administration of different drugs and experiments through the U.S. government.”
That has been the cause of this hesitation, Parkinson said, and many in the African-American community are holding on to it.
“Another reason for my hesitation in getting the shot is that I wanted to see what the end result would be,” Parkinson said. “Basically, I wanted to see if anyone would grow an arm out of the middle of their back,” Parkinson said.
Washington said the event was staged in that facility because Parkinson has a good history and relationship with Methodist North, which is in Raleigh. He represents state House District 98, which includes Raleigh, North Memphis, and parts of Bartlett and Berclair communities.
Parkinson called and expressed that he wanted to get vaccinated, Washington said. Although arrangements were made for Parkinson, Methodist North is not offering vaccines to the general public.
“We do have an initiative, so if patients are hospitalized and they would like to receive the vaccine, then we will give them the vaccine before discharge,” said Washington.
“There are a lot of our community partners that do provide vaccinations, and we recommend that those who would like the vaccine contact them,” she said.
Vaccines are available at CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, and the City of Memphis at the Pipkin Building.
Parkinson said the motivator for getting the shot at this time was the surging numbers of infections by the COVID-19’s Delta variant.
“This one is different from the first version of COVID-19,” said Parkinson. “This is a more formidable strain that is leaving a wasteland in its path. I felt like it was time to go on and make this move. I wanted to make this a public plea for others to go ahead and get the vaccination.”
Shelby County’s seven-day rolling average currently is 638 cases per day. Of the total active cases, 24.9 percent are among children 0-17 years old.
The Shelby County Health Department Wednesday (Aug. 18) reported seven new COVID-related deaths. Most of the new deaths and cases are among people who have not been vaccinated, officials said.
Parkinson lamented that “this whole thing has become a political football that’s being punted back and forth,” he said.
“This is a public health issue. This is not a political issue,” Parkinson said. “The unfortunate thing is that while they are playing football back and forth, people’s family members are dying …We’re just encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.”
Parkinson continued, “We’re encouraging everyone to mask up, and make our community as safe as possible. Let’s get through it together. We can.”
Washington said a third shot, or a booster, is being recommended by the CDC
“No matter which vaccine you took, a booster, or another dose is the recommendation of the CDC,” said Washington. “Following this CDC guideline provides added protection.”
The Pipkin Building near the Old Fairgrounds is open Wednesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Shots are administered in a drive-thru format, and subjects do not have to exit their cars. No appointment is necessary. For additional information on vaccines, call the Shelby County Health Department at: 901-222-SHOT (7468).