The mom-of-four revealed she was hesitant to get the vaccine because of her distrust in the U.S. healthcare system.
A Minnesota mom proved she would do anything for her kids when she overcame her vaccine hesitancy and got vaccinated against COVID-19 earlier this month. As a Black woman who has personally experienced the racial disparities in health care, Sheletta Brundidge has little faith in the U.S. health care system. Speaking to Good Morning America, the mother-of-four revealed that her distrust comes from nearly dying giving birth to each of her four children, and having her concerns repeatedly ignored by doctors. "I haven't had the best experience with health care," Brundidge said.
"Doctors didn't hear my concerns. They didn't hear me when I said I was in pain," she added. Brundidge's concerns are backed by research as Black women are two to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than women of other races according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "So when the health care community says, 'Hey, come do this,' I'm like, 'Why? Because suddenly my being well impacts white people?'" Brundidge said. "When it was just me when it was just my family, nobody cared." Speaking to WebMD, she said she nearly died during childbirth due to doctors ignoring her symptoms and concerns.
"The health care system has not been fair or provided equity when treating Black and Brown patients," she said. "As a Black woman, we need to fight to get basic care. Now they're coming to our communities, having town halls, trying to convince us to get vaccinated. They care about our health now because it affects white people." Finally, it was Brundidge's teen son, Andrew Brundidge, who convinced her to get vaccinated. Andrew—who turned 15 on July 31—said that his only birthday wish this year was for his mom to get the shot.
"What would me and my siblings do if she got sick? Who would take care of us?" the youngster asked his mom. "That touched my heart," said Brundidge, whose youngest three children—Brandon, Cameron, and Daniel—all have autism. "I never thought about how my decision to not get the vaccine would affect my kids. He made me realize it was not just a personal decision. I had to get it for my kids and my community." Andrew revealed that he knew convincing his mom would be difficult after watching his father and friends unsuccessfully try to convince his mom to get vaccinated.
"I thought maybe if I asked for my birthday, she'll get the vaccine," he said. "So I went online and studied COVID and got my facts right." He finally managed to sway his mom when he said that he'd rather her get vaccinated than receive any kind of gift. "I thought this was my personal decision, that it was just about me and nobody was impacted," Brundidge said. "But really, it was impacting him. It was impacting my family. It was weighing on Andrew's mental health. He was worried about it and trying to figure out how he could approach me. My husband too. He didn't sign up to be a widow and single parent raising four kids."
After taking some time to weigh the decision, Brundidge got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on August 13. "I was nervous as hell," she said. "My son was holding my hand." Having his mom vaccinated has lifted a load off Andrew's shoulder. "We'd already been double-masking up and putting on gloves whenever we go somewhere, but the vaccine still helps so I was really happy and relieved that she finally decided to get it," he said. Brundidge is now urging others to overcome their fears and get vaccinated. "I know how frightened you must be," she said. "I was just as hesitant as you, but we can't play Russian roulette with this virus because we won't win... Things are getting dire. There's a new variant out there. It's no joke, and it's really hitting our kids."