Birmingham-Southern College students turn down free vaccines, doctors push for more education

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Leaders with Birmingham-Southern College say when they hosted a free vaccination clinic, only half of the students expected showed up.

Healthcare professionals say the numbers are not too surprising, explaining there’s a disconnect between many young people and the virus. Yet, some students tell CBS 42 the unknowns of the vaccine are more concerning than the threat of the virus.

“I really don’t feel like for me, personally, it’s a big risk,” said David Higginbotham.

Higginbotham doesn’t see himself as especially vulnerable to complications or death from COVID-19, but he’s not so sure about the vaccine.

“I remember there was one doctor in Boston who had anaphylactic shock for a peanut allergy, which I also have a peanut allergy, a tree nut allergy like that,” he said.

It’s why when his alma mater hosted a free vaccination clinic, the pre-med student didn’t go. Yet, it’s not the only reason.

“We ask, ‘well, the risk of COVID for us is very little but there are a lot of unknowns about the effects of MRNA vaccines.’…And they’re just saying, you need to do this because we said so and that’s not really a good reason,” Higginbotham said.

Working daily at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth vaccination site, Dr. Celeste Reese-Willis says, when compared to older generations, she’s seen fewer young folks there to get their shot.

“A lot of the reason why this age group is not moving forward with the vaccine, I personally think, is because they have not had something or someone to speak on their level, in terms of reaching them where they are,” said Dr. Reese-Willis.

She says whether they don’t know anyone seriously affected, they think they’re safe from a severe case or they don’t know they could spread it to older loved ones, she believes it’s important to get out more information.

“[It means] having townhalls, means having more conversations, means meeting with a healthcare professional or someone who can help them understand how important a part this is in herd immunity and how much we need their participation,” Dr. Reese-Willis explained.

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