Tyler Perry is hoping that his considerable reach and influence is enough to persuade people hesitant about the vaccine to get their shot.
The media mogul received both installments of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine himself, and talked about his experience on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, as well as discussed his new BET special, “COVID-19 Vaccine and the Black Community: A Tyler Perry Special.” Perry will appear on the program with various experts to inform viewers of the known facts and statistics concerning the vaccine.
Perry told CBS’ Gayle King that even he was initially uncertain about taking the vaccine, when he was encouraged to do so “for the community.”
“Yeah, I was skeptical,” he admitted. “Because if you look at our history in this country with the Tuskegee experiment, Henrietta Lacks and things like that it raises flags for us as African-American people. So I understand why there’s a healthy skepticism about the vaccine.”
However, Perry said that once he was able to talk to the doctors and learn about the technology behind the vaccine, he felt more reassured. It also inspired him to do the special, and leverage his platform to build confidence in the Black community about taking the shot.
“I got the top experts here in town, Dr. [Carlos] Del Rio is an epidemiologist who’s brilliant, and to be able to ask those questions, and not only for myself, but share them with the community,” he said. “You know, I’ve got people who love what I do and kind of follow me.
“What I told them is that I’m not taking this vaccine because I want you to take it, I want to give you the information so you can make your own choices. So I think that’s what it’s about, education and information.”
Perry confirmed that he took both doses of the vaccine, and other than a few aches and pains, felt fine afterward. When asked if he regretted taking it, he answered: “Not at all. Because here’s the alternative. The problem with this COVID-19 virus is that you never know how it’s going to affect you. And I’ve had people who have died that I know, I’ve had people who have had long term health issues that I know [have had COVID-19].
“So if you’re making the choice of getting a vaccine, and even though it’s 95.96 percent efficacy, what happens is you are reducing your chances of ending up in the ICU by 100 percent. So, I think that’s just important that people know that if you take your chances with COVID you never know how it’s going to affect you and it could affect you long term,” he added.
Perry was adamant that if others just had the information he was privy to, it would change minds about the vaccine. For the director, the BET special is one means of doing that.
He recalled a group of Black crew members working on the show whose own eyes were opened by the knowledge that they had at hand.
“The special that we’re doing on BET on Thursday night is so important,” he said. “Because I have a crew that works for me. And they’re largely African American people who were all skeptical about the vaccine, when they sat in the room as they work in the cameras and doing hair and makeup and all that stuff.”
“They listened to all the information by the time we got to the end of it, they all wanted to take it. So I think again, it just goes back to getting the correct information and getting it from people that you trust. And you understand. I think this last administration did a lot of damage in eroding trust, when it came to when it comes to this vaccine. But the information that I’ve found has been very helpful.”
The special is set to air on BET Thursday, Jan. 28, at 9 p.m. PT/ET.