In April, the Maryland Department of Health released data showing that Black Marylanders are disproportionately represented among confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19. Black residents make up just under a third of Maryland's population, according to the data, while the group accounts for 42.7% of COVID-19 cases and 44% of deaths from the disease for which racial data is known.
On December 11, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency approval (EUA) for a vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Emergency approval enables Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the United States. However, many African Americans have expressed skepticism about receiving the vaccine.
For Shawn Hendricks, MSN, RN, the high rates of infection in color communities, as well as suspicion of a vaccine coupled with COVID infecting their own family members, were more than enough reasons to get the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. Hendricks, Director of Nursing for Medicine, Cardiac Services, and Telesitter Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMS), was luckily the first person to be vaccinated at UMMS on December 14, 2020.
"I got the vaccine and I'm alive, kicking and talking about it here," said Hendricks, who has worked at the hospital for more than two decades. "I'm proud to be among the first to do it."
Henricks was among the top five UMMS health care workers to receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine when the system begins vaccinating employees across the company. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into the muscle. The series of vaccinations consists of two doses three weeks apart.
"I had some pain at the injection site, but that is normal," she said. “We must continue to encourage our community to get vaccinated. I know the vacation is near and we want to see our family members, but we have to do it differently. "
She added, “Collecting will not help because a person may be asymptomatic. It's so important that we stay home, wear masks and gloves, and use disinfectants. After a vaccine becomes available, take it. This is the only opportunity for us to go in the right direction about normalcy. "
According to a hospital official, UMMS received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, distributed them throughout the system, and started each vaccination of staff. They expect a follow-up delivery as well as their first deliveries of the Moderna vaccine and will continue to vaccinate the staff.
Hendricks, a native of Baltimore City, said her mother had spent two months recovering from COVID-19 and her brother and brother-in-law had also been diagnosed with infection.
"It's difficult to be separated from your family and friends and not to know whether you will live or die. Depression sets in. My mother even lost her will to live at one point. Thank God my mother pulled through. She is also a cancer survivor and just had his birthday. "For those who would rather wait longer before being vaccinated, Hendricks said," We have waited over a year now. Over 300,000 dead should say enough. Waiting is not a strategy. We know what the wait did. "
Sharon Henry, MD, is Professor of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Director of the Department of Wound Healing and Metabolism at UMMC's R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Henry was a shock trauma doctor for 23 years and received the vaccine.
"As a trauma surgeon, COVID has turned the way we do business upside down," said Dr. Henry, who also had a family member who was infected with the disease. "So often in the trauma department we treat everyone as if they had COVID, and so often do we see patients who don't know their history and who turn out to have COVID."
Like Hendricks, she strongly encourages others to get vaccinated.
"Science has not taken short cuts in making these vaccines," said Dr. Henry. "Many of the administrative barriers were removed, but science was in no way a shortcut."
She added, “After receiving the vaccine, I feel great. There was some pain but that is completely gone. I did not have a fever, tiredness or any of the side effects described. My understanding is that these can come after the second dose. We will see."
Dr. Henry prescribed the following instructions: "Get the vaccine and do whatever the CDC preached." She added, "We don't wear masks and gloves, and yes they are not comfortable. But I'll put on four masks if I have to to keep this disease from spreading. So many are at risk right now and so many are at risk." have lost their lives. The benefits outweigh the risks. Waiting is currently not an option for us. At the end of this tunnel there is light. "