‘I’m a Mom First’: How One Pediatrician is Helping Address Vaccine Hesitancy in Black Families
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An Alabama-based pediatrician is going the extra mile to help Black families navigate through vaccine hesitancy. 

Dr. Nina S. Ford Johnson, FAAP, is a mom first. That’s one title trumps all others, so she gets it.

COVID-19 is new, the vaccine is new and every other update is happening at what seems like lightning speed.

But Ford, who has triplets who are under 5 and a son, has a deep understanding of what it takes to protect our children. 

What to Consider When Deciding to Vaccinate Your Child Against COVID-19

It’s why she appeared in a national television advertisement that encourages families to vaccinate their children over 5-years-old against COVID-19. 

“With COVID going around affecting Black kids at a higher rate, I’m telling any parent with kids 5-years and older mine will be getting the COVID vaccine as soon as they’re old enough,” Ford said in the commercial, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services Campaign.

“We Can Do This” is part of a national initiative to increase vaccine knowledge and confidence. It was created for parents who have concerns and questions about getting their child vaccinated. 

“The risks from COVID far outweigh any risks from side effects of the vaccine,” Ford said in her 30-second spot. “It’s the best protection for my kids and for yours.”

Ford, who is the president of the Medical Society of Mobile County, has been in practice for more than eight years. During the pandemic, she has served as an advocate for children’s health and is passionate about helping families get their questions about vaccines answered. 

Vaccine hesitancy seems to hit Black communities harder. 

There has been an uptick in children hospitalized with COVID-19. Even for those who contract the virus but don’t get very ill, they can still spread it to others, including more vulnerable people. 

“I understand the hesitation that parents and families are going through right now,” Ford said in a separate campaign message. “But we have to know that the science has been tested and tried and proven. …We have the ability to now come up with a vaccine that has been shown to be proven 90 to 95 percent effective at preventing the serious disease that COVID can cause, not just for adults but for children as well.

“I understand your hesitation, but talk to your pediatrician, talk to your family doctor, talk to someone who will give you the right information and will not steer you wrong.”