Black physician aims to dispel distrust of COVID-19 vaccine

As Georgia hit a record in new COVID-19 cases on Christmas Eve, an African-American physician who treats COVID-19 patients wants to spark more trust in the vaccine.

Dr. Nicole Peoples has treated patients recovering from the most serious cases of coronavirus nearly every day of this pandemic. She works in the Long-term Acute Care Center at Wellstar Windy Hill Hospital but has not contracted the virus.

She received the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, hoping to boost her chances of remaining healthy for the sake of her patients and her loved ones.

"This isn't just about you. It's about the grandmother you're going to see or your mother who could end up in a hospital because you didn't take precautions," Dr. Peoples told FOX 5.

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The Cobb County physician posted a picture on her Instagram page after she received the vaccine, hoping to ease the fears and doubts of other African Americans who are leery about getting immunized. But she admits, she initially had her own concerns about how quickly the vaccine was developed.

"I had most of the same concerns that most of the African American community had about healthcare and how we've been treated historically. The healthcare system doesn't always work in the favor of African Americans and so I had a lot of those same concerns. But once I did my research and had the explanations I needed, I felt fully confident about getting the vaccine. But it wasn't just that, it was also the day that greater than three thousand people died. That's what nailed it in the coffin for me," said Dr. Peoples.

The Spelman College graduate said she was dizzy and lightheaded for a while Wednesday and had a headache that didn't go away until Thursday morning.

"I also had soreness at the site of the injection, which is very typical for a vaccine. But I'm sharing this because I want people to be aware that these are the side effects that are common and when you weigh the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine and having a few mild side effects, these were nothing in comparison," said the Cobb County internal medicine specialist.

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She said the side effects she's treated in COVID-19 patients at Wellstar Windy Hill Hospital are far worse.

"Not being able to breathe, having to be put on a ventilator, being hospitalized, going into kidney failure, amputations because of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks. I've seen all of this with my patients," said the Spelman College graduate.

Dr. Peoples hopes all skeptics, but black people in particular, will consider what's at stake.

"When you look at this from a civil rights standpoint, this is what we fought for-- to have access to a vaccine that others have. To have informed consent and to have this available at a time when this disease is killing us at a disproportionate rate," said Dr. Peoples.

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