Chicago COVID: Delta variant leads some who were vaccine hesitant to reconsider

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Beyond vaccine mandates, what can be done to encourage more residents to get vaccinated? The spread of the delta variant is causing some to reconsider.

While the COVID-19 vaccine has been widely available for months, 20-year-old Malayah Brooks finally decided to get her first shot Thursday.

"I was scared," she admitted. "Most times I was hearing people were getting sick."

Kera Bryant, 14, waited as well.

"I've been busy," Bryant said. "Now I'm able to get one, so I'm getting one."

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Whatever the reason for waiting, hesitation among the city's African American population remains quite high. While 52% of all Chicago residents are fully vaccinated and 58.1% have received at least one dose, only 35.5% of Black Chicagoans are fully vaccinated, and 40.9% have gotten at least one dose.

"We are gravely concerned. That's why we are having this event, that's why we are participating in other events," said Karen Freeman-Wilson, president and CEO of Chicago Urban League.

To get the vaccination rate up, the Chicago Urban League hosted a vaccination event Thursday. Brooks came at the urging of family members.

"My grandma kept begging me, that's the reason why I'm here," she said.

SEE ALSO | CDC COVID risk map shows Chicago area counties with 'substantial' COVID-19 transmission



Amina Jackson and her son got their second dose Thursday. Jackson admits she was hesitant at first, but decided to follow the science.

"Just listening to lot of individuals in the medical field that really swayed me to take care of my health," Jackson said.

The Biden administration is calling on physicians to help persuade and vaccinate their patients. UIC infectious disease specialist Dr. Max Brito said doctors are in a unique position to help convince their patients to get the shot.

"We can explain, we can show empathy and then answer questions to the best of our abilities," Brito said. "I think that physicians, nurses, healthcare personnel in general and people of faith, the clergy have a big impact on the community."

Besides more vaccination events, the Urban League is also going door-to-door in African American neighborhoods to help persuade more people as Chicago case numbers continue to go back up.
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