‘Do it for others’: Gastonia mayor asking for residents to get vaccinated as COVID case numbers rise

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 12:15 AM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Walker Reid, the mayor of Gastonia, is trying to encourage more people from his community to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Reid spent Thursday evening celebrating his birthday at the Gastonia Honey Hunters baseball game. Reid, who turned 64 Thursday, took time to speak with WBTV about the rising COVID-19 case numbers in Gaston County and across the Carolinas. Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that there has been an increase in cases over the month of July.

“I think it’s so important to take this vaccine to keep the numbers down, hopefully keep the masks off and that we can get everything up and running in the community,” said Reid. “I hate to go back through where schools are shut down businesses are shut down, government is shut down, because of what’s going on.”

Gaston County’s Twitter account posted a video public service announcement from Reid Thursday morning. In the 30 second clip, Reid speaks about getting the vaccine and leading by example. A photo of Reid receiving his first shot is shown in the video.

It could be difficult to convince more people in Gaston County to get vaccinated. Data from NCDHHS shows only 37 percent of the county is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Kimberly Spencer, a Gastonia resident, healthcare worker and relative of Reid, spoke to WBTV in an interview Thursday evening. She said she tries to wear her mask and follow COVID protocols, but she does not plan to get the vaccine.

“I’m not going to jeopardize myself for no vaccine because they say, ‘oh it’s gonna keep you from getting it’, but you already saying people that’s had the vaccine is still getting sick, and now you saying they got to have a booster on top of the vaccine? I’ll pass,” said Spencer.

The Gastonia resident said she she’s worried about how the vaccine could impact her. She also claimed she has a friend who experienced a bad reaction after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Spencer said she thinks she may be protected against the virus because she may have already contracted COVID-19.

“I’m not worrying about it. I’m not doing it,” said Spencer. “We’ll just stay in the house. If it comes down to us being locked down again, we’ll just be locked down again.”

Reid explained that he is hoping some people who have not yet received the vaccine, will reconsider getting the shot(s).

“Just think about common sense. You have family members, you have kids, you have people that you associate with, work with. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for others,” said Reid.

The mayor said there are currently no plans to hold events or offer incentives in Gastonia to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

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