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Newly-vaccinated nurse practitioner hopes to reverse 'persistently lower' rates among people of color

Only 9 percent of Blacks have received 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Nurse Judy-Ann Wellington shows off COVID-19 vaccine card on July 22, 2021
Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 18:50:49-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Coronavirus cases are climbing once again as a result of the delta variant.

The U.S. is now seeing approximately 26,000 new cases per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations have also increased by 36 percent.

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This has more people who haven't been vaccinated -- getting vaccinated.

One frontline worker decided to get vaccinated Thursday afternoon in the hopes of reversing persistently lower vaccine rates among Black and Hispanic people.

Nurse practitioner Judy-Ann Wellington is a frontline essential worker who saw the worst of the pandemic.

"I'll never forget the fear of these patients in the hospital with no family around," she said.

Wellington was deployed to Texas from January to May, working 12 hours a day as a devastating wave of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.

Yet she faced her own fear: the vaccination.

Judy-Ann Wellington with her daughters after receiving vaccine
Accompanied by her daughters, Judy-Ann Wellington shows off her vaccine shot.

"Fear the unknown," Wellington said. "I think (some Blacks) have this negative stigma that the vaccine is here to kill us off."

This is a possible factor that's impacting a lot of people.

As of July 19, the CDC says nearly two-thirds of whites, 59%, have received at least one dose of a vaccine. That is compared to 16 percent of Hispanics and nine percent of Blacks.

"I was giving people the vaccine to protect them against COVID, and I have no protection. It's about time," Wellington said.

"She's not the only health care worker that I know that is now vaccinated. As a matter of fact, I know three other people who got vaccinated this week. Why? The Delta variant is real," said Dr. Tiffany McCalla with the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society president.

McCalla leads a group of health care professionals bringing vaccines and education to communities of color.

"We encourage you to make your own decision, but urge you to look at the facts," McCalla said.

Dr. Tiffany McCalla with the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society president.
Dr. Tiffany McCalla urges those hesitant against getting the vaccine to look at the facts and how it can save your life.

Those are facts that motivated Wellington and her daughters to get vaccinated.

"I think the biggest thing that families can take from this is fear gives you no protection. Prevention gives you protection and that's what the COVID vaccine does," said Dyman Roye, one of Judy Ann Wellington’s daughters.

Dyman and her sister, Madyson, were beside their mom as she got protected.

"People can't complain about things getting better if they don't go out for the initiative to get better," Madyson said.

Wellington and her children, all of whom are now vaccinated, said they aren't judging people who aren’t vaccinated.

Instead, they hope people do more research after seeing this story.