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‘She Died Within Six Days of Being on the Ventilator’: Leaders Encourage More Blacks to Sign Up for COVID-19 Vaccine

As the United States continues to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine and open mass vaccination sites, many residents are pulling up their sleeves to get the shot. Mass vaccination sites have opened recently in California, Massachusetts, Texas, New York and Georgia.

The Peach State opened five additional mass vaccination sites on Monday, March 15. The new sites are expected to administer an additional 20,000 vaccines per week, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Homeland Security Agency.

Tim Reeve, the GEMA site manager at LakePoint Sports Complex in Emerson, Georgia, just northwest of Atlanta, says mass vaccination sites are important in order to change the slow rates of vaccination doses in the state. “We’re here to complete that mission and to deliver mass vaccinations in a timely manner,” Reeve said. 

Currently, Georgia is vaccinating citizens at a slower pace than any other state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.

Ronald Johnson, the lead pharmacist at the Emerson site, wants to change that. He says people need to prioritize getting the vaccine. “This is real stuff. People are actually dying. We need lives to be saved,” Johnson said.

The pharmacist also has gotten the vaccine, not just for professional reasons, but also for personal ones. Johnson says he has lost several people due to COVID-19, including his 31-year-old niece. 

“She had just had a baby and she wound up contracting the virus. She died within six days of being on the ventilator,” Johnson added. 

Johnson isn’t the only person to experience loss and make it their mission to get vaccinated. 

Steven Eroh, 53, says he’s just “trying to stay alive” after losing his best friend because of the virus. “If not for anybody, just for him,” Eroh said. “I have a couple of people who died from COVID, so I know I have to take it.” 

There are currently three authorized vaccines, which are all free of charge to all people living in the U.S. 

As of March 15, those eligible to receive the vaccine in Georgia include: 

  • Individuals 16 years of age and older with high risk medical conditions
  • Individuals 55 years of age and older 
  • Caregivers of those 65 years of age and older
  • Health care personnel, long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Law enforcement, fire, EMS, 911 operators and court personnel 
  • Pre-K, K-12 and DECAL-licensed or exempt child care programs educators and staff
  • Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers
  • Parents of children with complex medical conditions

The CDC says getting the vaccine is a safer choice than possibly catching the virus and getting sick or spreading it to people you love. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and find the nearest mass vaccination site, visit your state’s health department website.

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