Pardee Vaccination of Local 65-Year-Old Addresses Multiple Risk Factors: Age, Race, and Occupation
February 26 was an emotional day for 65-year-old Thomas Allen of Hendersonville as he received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Pardee UNC Health Care Vaccine Clinic at Blue Ridge Community College. While his age made him eligible for vaccination, Mr. Thomas’ occupation and his race all represent significant factors in his risk for contracting COVID-19 and surviving the illness.
According to the CDC, there is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Some of the factors contributing to increased risk for racial and ethnic minority groups include ability to access and utilize healthcare options and having an occupation in an essential work setting like a grocery store. As a cashier at a local grocery store in town, Mr. Allen is routinely interacting with multiple people throughout the day. Because of his race, age and his occupation, Mr. Allen has an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, hospitalization and death as compared to white and non-Hispanic persons.
Mr. Allen has many responsibilities at his job; currently, he is responsible for handing out masks to customers who are in need. “This has been very good for me, because I love talking to people,” Mr. Allen said. A family man at heart, he goes on to say how blessed he has been with his loved ones, especially his nieces and nephews. “They are 75% of the reason why I am getting this shot. I want to see them grow up and have kids.”
Pardee began scheduling vaccinations for Group 2 individuals, those 65 and older, on Jan. 14, 2021. Mr. Allen’s sister learned through her church that her brother was eligible for the vaccine. Pardee has been working with local churches attended by people of color in order to educate marginalized communities about vaccine safety and efficacy. Mr. Allen said he didn’t hesitate once he found out he could get the shot. “This shot is a Godsend for me. It means life and gives me peace of mind,” he said through tears and a shaking voice, as he broke down about what this moment meant to him. “I am just so thankful to get this vaccine and to be able to sleep a whole lot better at night.”
Mr. Allen shared that he has sacrificed seeing his beloved family, in an effort to keep them safe. He said he hopes that others will follow his lead and get the vaccine. Pardee is honored to be able to offer this vaccination service to Mr. Allen and the community, in an effort to provide hope and healing, in what’s been a very long year of loss and heartache.