WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — They don’t want to be here. Victor and Jackie Frazier don’t want to be looking into a camera, pleading with anyone who will listen to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
They’re only here because their daughter, Barbara, isn’t.
“If any of her friends would have caught COVID,” Victor Frazier said, “she would have made sure they were taken care of. She was just a fighter for other people, and unfortunately, she made a decision to neglect her own care.”
Barbara Frazier was blossoming. Her parents recall the awards she received at work and how she gave them pride. But when the COVID-19 vaccine reached their small southern town, Victor and Jackie couldn’t convince their daughter to get it. After that, she was able to get the virus.
“She did not trust the medical field or the scientists,” Victor said. “Me and my wife both were vaccinated. And when we were trying to help our daughter, we both caught COVID, and I caught COVID pneumonia.”
Victor and Jackie Frazier spent some time in the hospital but they eventually recovered. Barbara, who was 29 years old, died in her sleep.
“It’s like something being snatched out of you,” said Jackie. “You’re just completely in shock. It’s like you’re in a dream, you know, and it’s not registered. Nothing’s really registered, you know?”
Within weeks of losing their daughter, Victor and Jackie committed to sharing her story, in part because they knew she wasn’t alone. They know of so many people who look like them who don’t wear masks and won’t get the vaccine.
Dr. Catherine Burley is also a witness to it.
“There’s fear,” Dr. Burley said about many of her Black patients at Family Health Centers of Georgia. “You know, they don’t have a lot of trust.”
She is also aware of the negative effects that decades of medical bias, both conscious and subconscious, have had on her community.
“You know, they go to the doctor, and they’re treated differently,” she said. “They’re talked to differently. They are afraid and suspicious. I get it. But you know, a lot of times sometimes they just want to hear me say, ‘You need to get the vaccine.’”
It is impossible to identify a single group of vaccine hesitancy, as it would be difficult to recognize the wide range of resistance.
A study from the COVID States Project found it’s not just Black parents, but rural parents, young parents, and low-income parents who are more likely to have concerns. Außerdem a CDC surveyMontana and Wyoming were found to have the highest percentages of hesitant residents.
Many have suffered. Many people are speaking out. A new wave is being launched to reach those who have not been reached by the virus’ fourth wave.
“I mean, there’s not a week that goes by that I’m not getting a call from the medical examiner, the hospital, or a family member about one of my patients who’s perished from COVID,” said Dr. Burley. “It’s very real. Some of these people were fine two months ago and they are now deceased.”
Victor and Jackie witnessed it with Barbara. They now look at a camera and talk in the midst of their grief.
“When you go to the emergency room,” Victor said, “you see a lot of Black people just standing there, waiting for hours and hours. Something’s gotta scratch that surface and let them know that, you know, they have to be prepared. This isn’t a plague. This is a killer.”