Rev. Jesse Jackson gets Pfizer COVID vaccine; health officials hope it inspires minority groups

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rev. Jesse Jackson, 79, got his first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Friday.

Many in the healthcare community hope the image of Rev. Jackson receiving the shot will encourage more people in black and brown communities to follow his lead.

"Take the vaccination now. Keep hope alive," Rev. Jackson said.

"It's absolutely, symbolically, massively important to show one of the greatest African American leaders in history, that he's willing to get the vaccine, and he wants to inspire his people to come out and get the vaccine as well," said Tim Egan, Roseland Hospital CEO.

Hospital officials said they are finding reluctance to take the shot even among their own employees. They started a public relations campaign to overcome the historical distrust among many in minority communities when it comes to medicine and vaccines.

RELATED: Chicago doctor pushes for more COVID vaccinations, proposes skipping phases of vaccine rollout plan

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a government scientist who was instrumental in the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, aims to change the perspective minority individuals.

"Hesitancy comes with misinformation but also lack of information because many times there have not been anyone like myself who has been able to break down the scientific information to communities like this, said Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, National Institutes of Health.

Former Chicago Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston lost his cousin Johnny Herman Kidd to the COVID-19. The virus also took the life of his uncle Willie Delton Hendrix. However, he said he will still wait before getting the vaccine.

"I think it's going to really take many of our black medical professionals, brown medical professionals to really do the due diligence and explain to the community that this vaccine will be a help and not a hurt," Rev. Livingston said.

Roseland Hospital received 975 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and they have given out about two-thirds of those doses to medical staff. The hospital hopes its public relations campaign to convince the community the vaccine is safe will work on the rest of the hospital employees as well.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.