Sheletta Brundidge, from Cottage Grove – 20 miles southeast of Minneapolis – said her past experience with doctors had led her to be distrustful of the healthcare system and she was ‘adamant’ she wouldn’t get vaccinated.
But when her oldest son, Andrew, turned 15 last month, he said his only birthday wish was for Brundidge to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Last week, she received her first dose of a vaccine with her son holding her hand the entire time, reported the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
Brundidge – a host of WCCO Radio and a podcast called Sheletta Makes Me Laugh – is now using her experience to help convince more people of color to get vaccinated, especially with rates among minority communities lagging behind white communities.
Sheletta Brundidge, from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, who was hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 last week after being convinced by her son. Pictured: Brundidge gets vaccinated on Friday while holding the hand of her oldest son, Andrew
Brundidge said she wasn’t planning on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 due to distrust of the medical community. Her oldest son, Andrew, turned 15 last month and said it was his only birthday wish for her to get vaccinated. Pictured: Brundridge holds Andrew’s hand prior to get vaccinated, left; Brundridge and Andrew speak to Gov Tim Walz after getting the vaccine; right
Black people currently make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population but only 10 percent of those who have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
By comparison, white people account for 72 percent of the population and 58 percent of people who received at least one dose.
Yet, according to CDC data, blacks are about 1.5 times more likely to contact the virus than white Americans and about three times more likely to die.
There are reasons for these stark disparities, such as access to healthcare and lack of transportation to get to appointments.
Butt here is also distrust because, in the past, racist health policies have preyed upon America’s communities of color.
One of the most well-known examples are the Tuskegee experiments from 1932 to 1971, in which black men were used to track the progression of syphilis.
However, the study was run without their consent and they never received treatment to cure the sexually transmitted infection.
Brundidge, who has four children, said she had difficult births and that she didn’t feel her concerns were addressed.
‘I almost died. I had a high fever, and I was talking to the clinicians, and they just didn’t really pay attention to what I was saying, and they didn’t care,’ she told the Pioneer Press.
‘It was like they almost didn’t care whether I made it out of the hospital or not.’
She said that doctors ignored her symptoms multiple times, which led to a general feeling of distrust of medical professionals.
‘I wasn’t seen as a human being. And so I was like: “You know what…I’m just going to take my vitamins, try to be healthy and, you know, stay safe and not get sick because I can’t count on the health care system,”‘ Brundidge said.
Andrew’s three youngest siblings are autistic and he said he was worried that if his mom died of COVID-19 that no one would be around to take care of them. Pictured: Brundridge (far left) with her husband and her four children
Brundidge got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week and now wants to use her experience to help convince other black Americans to get vaccinated. Pictured: Brundidge (center) with Gov Walz after getting vaccinated
Instead of deciding to get the vaccine, she wore a mask at all time and followed social distancing guidelines, reported the Pioneer Press.
But, in July, she asked Andrew what he wanted for his birthday and he told her he had one birthday wish – for her to get vaccinated.
Andrew said not only did his research the increased risk of severe disease or death in the black community but also voiced his concerns about the family.
Andrew’s three youngest siblings are both autistic and he said he was worried that if his mom contracted COVID-19 the family would be motherless.
‘I asked: “Who’s going to take care of us if something happens to you?” he told the Pioneer Press.
‘So she finally decided to give in and get the vaccine.’
Last week, Brundidge got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with her son holding her hand. The event was even attended Gov Tim Walz by her side.
Brundrige said that on the day of her appointment she was ‘extremely nervous’ but, after it was over, she felt relieved.
‘It felt really good. Like I had done something for my family,’ she told the Pioneer Press.
‘If you’re on the fence and you think you want to do it and you’re waiting for more data, these ICU beds are filling up, and our kids are going back to school. We all want the same things.
‘We want our way of life back. And the only way that we can do that is if we come together and make some sacrifices.’