Basketball legend Charles Barkley headlined a COVID vaccination campaign on Saturday afternoon that drew dozens of people to Legion Field in Birmingham.
Barkley, who has openly expressed support for the vaccine, spent nearly two hours signing autographs, taking selfies with fans and urging people to get vaccinated.
“These are people who get vaccinated. That’s what you should do. You have to stop being selfish. You don’t get the vaccine just for yourself, you do it for the people around you, ”NBA Hall of Famer and Auburn University basketball player told AL.com at the outdoor event. .
“I’m from here. So they asked me to get involved and I do a little, little part … You have to stop being selfish, especially for children. You need to get your children immunized to keep them safe.
The ride included walk-in and drive-thru vaccination sites, which saw a steady stream of area residents receiving their first Pfizer vaccines. More than 100 people received vaccines at the event, according to Bob Shepard, spokesperson for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who led the campaign.
Kabria Rembert, a 20-year-old student from Birmingham, was among those who got the shot on Saturday.
“I am young and I have no underlying illness, but I have to take care of the people around me,” she said afterwards. “I’m just trying not to be selfish. “
Angeline Bibb volunteered at the drive, where she was also vaccinated. She said she had been “apprehended” and experienced “anxiety” about the vaccine, but was happy to have finally received the vaccine.
“These vaccines were designed to save lives,” she said.
William Carson, a 42-year-old Birmingham resident, said he too was skeptical of the shooting for months.
“On social media they were saying it was a vaccine for a zombie virus, all kinds of things,” he said.
But he said he and his 15-year-old son were recently convinced they should get the COVID vaccine.
“My son’s doctor told me how many patients have it who are in intensive care at UAB [Hospital] and how many children have who are in the intensive care unit of the Children’s [of Alabama], ” he said. “So I decided to pick him up today. And my son is coming later today.
Barkley said it was “stupid” for people to remain unvaccinated during an outspoken speech at Saturday’s event.
“I hope everyone here gets vaccinated. It’s the right thing to do, ”he said. “There is no good reason not to get the vaccine… Think about this: how many people have died? How many people have lost their businesses? How many people have lost their homes? This thing is for real.
When asked how many people the UAB hoped to get vaccinated at Saturday’s event, Mona Fouad, professor of medicine and senior associate dean at UAB’s medical school, said the goal was to vaccinate “as much as possible”.
“We spoke to many members of the community, and they all said, ‘We need to hear a trusted voice, someone we trust, someone we know, not someone in Washington or somewhere outside, “” she said. “And Charles Barkley has been a huge supporter of our work for years. We contacted him and he did not hesitate to come.