Meharry Medical begins COVID-19 vaccines for patients 75+

Sen. Brenda Gilmore also received her vaccine Saturday
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Posted at 3:19 PM, Jan 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-16 23:38:18-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Georgia James was one of the first Meharry Medical College patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday. "I’m just anxious to get this thing," she said.

James was one of dozens who called Meharry to get an appointment. Right now, the college is only vaccinating patients that are age 75 and above.

"Is that it?" James asked as the healthcare worker removed the needle.

Like so many of us, James was eager to get immunity from this dangerous virus. "I’m just glad to get this in my body," she said.

But for every willing patient, Meharry Medical College CEO Dr. James Hildreth knows there will be those who are nervous.

"We at Meharry would not give a vaccine to anyone if we had the least bit of concern that it was safe," said Dr. Hildreth.

He assures everyone, but especially patients of color, that there's nothing to be worried about.

"It’s very different from Tuskegee or any of those past horrible experiences that we’ve gone through. People of color have been involved in developing the vaccine, evaluating safety, we participated in the studies, and the science is the most compelling thing for me," he said.

Which is why, Hildreth invited a few higher profile guests to also get vaccinated. "I want to lead by example to show that the risk is too high not to take the vaccine," said State Senator Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville).

Gilmore said the process was smooth and that she didn't experience any potential side effects. "I am so excited and I’m also excited for my community that Meharry is making this available to other African Americans and Latinos and the whole Nashville area," said Sen. Gilmore.

Dr. Hildreth says if a vast majority of people don't get vaccinated, this could all be for nothing. "Unless 80 percent of us or so get the vaccine, we can’t go back to a normal kind of life," said Hildreth.

That's why he hopes to build trust, one vaccine at a time.

"The fact that this will help protect me from getting the virus," said Beverly Taylor, an 84 year old woman who also got vaccinated.

Anyone age 75 years or older can sign up to get the vaccine at Meharry by calling 615-327-6348. No walk-in patients will be allowed.

For more information in Meharry's vaccine practices, click here:

The clinic is using the Pfizer vaccine, which means the people vaccinated this weekend will need to return in three weeks to get their final dose.