Jan 6, 2021 - COVID

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins makes history again, receives COVID-19 vaccine

Dot Counts

Photo: Courtesy Josh Stender/WSOC-TV

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins was 15 years old in 1957 when she walked through a mob of jeering white people to become the first Black student at Harding High. Today, at age 78, she broke through another barrier: She became one of the first North Carolinians in the 75-plus age bracket to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: Counts-Scoggins hopes that taking the first dose of the vaccine convinces others from her demographic to join.

  • Black women in her age group are skeptical of publicly administered vaccines. They still remember, for instance, when the government performed forced sterilizations of Black women in the 1960s. Counts-Scoggins was hesitant herself, up until recently.
dot counts
Dot Counts-Scoggins gives an elbow bump to Dr. Katie Passaretti, Atrium Health’s Medical Director for Infection Prevention. (Photo courtesy of Atrium Health)

Background: Today was the first day of phase 1B of vaccinations in the state, making all residents ages 75 and older eligible. Meanwhile, state officials hope to alleviate “vaccine hestitation” and reluctance among a variety of communities to get vaccinated. [Go deeper]

Big picture: North Carolina has been among the slowest states in distributing the vaccinations, but the state and its medical partners ramped up efforts early this week. Governor Cooper called on the National Guard to help.

  • In addition to Atrium Health, Mecklenburg County and Novant Health are beginning to roll out vaccines to people 75 and older this week. Visit Mecklenburg County’s website or your health provider for more information about how to schedule an appointment.

What she said: “I figure I need to do everything I can to stay on this earth a while longer,” Counts-Scoggins told us Wednesday night.

  • After she received the vaccination, she said she felt good. She told interviewers at the Atrium facility, “(Maybe) I can be an example for others to say, ‘OK I have done it, now it’s your turn.'”
  • In some ways, that’s the story of her life.
Dorothy Counts Harding photo
Dot Counts-Scoggins was just 15 years old when she integrated Harding High School in 1957. Her picture wound up on the front page of the New York Times. (Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)
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