Mark Hayes shares personal COVID vaccine journey

I’ll be honest with you, Covid19 scares the hell outta me. Whenever, I would get
bronchitis or any upper respiratory infection as a kid and even as an adult, it was
always awful and seemed to last forever. Needless to say, I’m not playing any
games with this virus. I’m wearing double masks, and I’m going back to the car to
get my mask when I get out without it, because I don’t want to take any chances
with this awful virus.

Back in the spring of 2020, my beloved fraternity lost an amazing brother and well-known restaurateur, Michael Murrell. It hit us all incredibly hard. We had all just
traveled to Dallas, for a boys’ trip to watch the Cowboys play six months earlier.
But at a socially distanced memorial service at his church out in the parking lot, his
brother told me when they went to say their last goodbyes, “it was the saddest and
the most frightening thing I have ever seen.”

That stuck with me. And scared me even more. My heart goes out to each and
every family that has lost a loved one and I know far too many. We all do. And it’s
really sad, but now there is an answer. An answer to protect ourselves, our families
and our communities.

We know right now that African Americans are being vaccinated at a substantially
lower rate than our white counterparts, but we need to do our research and find a
way to get past the hesitancy. Older African Americans are extremely wary of the
vaccine and rightfully so. But the bottom line is one in ten African Americans
have perished because of this horrific virus. I really don’t think we have time to
fear. My 83-year-old mother has already received both of her shots, and it’s been
several weeks since her 2nd dose. She’s fine. No side effects, no illness, no

My wife and I took the ride over to Forsyth County to get our vaccine, not far from
our Gwinnett county home. As you might expect there was a brisk and steady
stream of people coming to get vaccinated. Not to my surprise, my wife and I, and
one other Hospital worker, were the only people of color in the building. And
when you consider the size and scope of the operation, there’s no way anyone
could really have conspired to make sure that we got some nefarious dose–and my
wife and I were served at different stations, and I’m just not going to believe that
anyone has the time or the energy to set aside tainted vaccine doses only for African
Americans. There are just too many moving parts, and no one can keep a secret,
especially one like that.

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, the President of the Morehouse School Of Medicine
has urged members of the minority community to get vaccinated and as of
Mid-February, they had vaccinated more than 1200 people with another 8000 on
the waiting list.

Dr. Rice told WAGA-TV, “We believe at Morehouse School of Medicine with
our partnership with Grady and the state we have some opportunities to
really make a difference.”

It’s been a couple of days since we had our shots. My wife has had some soreness,
but I have had none. We are anxious to get our next shot and get as much
protection as possible because we want to protect the ones we love most. We
double mask, we sanitize, we social distance, and just a week and a half ago, my
brother tested positive and remains in quarantine, unable to get a negative test. So
if you won’t do it for yourself, do it to save the ones you love most.

My brother is doing fine, but he’s in great shape and has no comorbidities to
exacerbate his condition. But many of us are not. I’m asthmatic and I have high
blood pressure and I don’t want to play any games with a virus that attacks the
respiratory system like COVID19 does so proficiently. So I’m urging all members
of the black and brown community to do their research, check with their physician,
and find the comfort level they need to get the vaccine.

And if you’re not willing to do it for yourself, do it for the ones you love most.
Because your failure to take the vaccine could very well lead to losing someone
you can’t live without.

I’ll update you all in a couple of weeks after I’ve received my second dose. In the
meantime mask up and start talking about and researching the vaccine and where
you can get it too.


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