UCA alumnus encourages the African American community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Michael Murry ’99 embarked on a one-man social media campaign in December to encourage African Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I wanted to use my platform to inform and educate people that receiving the vaccine is a safe and viable option for them when made available,” Murry said.
Murry is a nurse and currently serves as a lead clinical case coordinator at Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway where he assists patients in the transition from hospital to home care. He understands through firsthand accounts the distrust some African Americans have in taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Murry believes this mindset about the coronavirus vaccines boils down to the speed of their development and skepticism of the health care system after historical health care inequality. According to a 2020 study conducted by University of Michigan researchers, African Americans are less likely than white Americans to have health care coverage and more likely to avoid care due to cost barriers.
Using his Facebook and Instagram accounts, Murry documented his journey starting with his first dose of the vaccine on Dec. 17. He posted daily comments for approximately one week describing the ease of the process, as well as the after-effects. He continued posting his social posts after taking the second dose on Jan. 7.
“If I could have convinced one person who was on the fence, I feel as if [the campaign] was successful,” Murry said.
Some of Murry’s posts included levity such as, “Feeling great, and my stomach got flatter between dose 1 and dose 2!”
From his recollection, Murry’s highest level of engagement was approximately 750 likes on Facebook and 230 likes on Instagram. The response to the social media content was largely positive, and several individuals reached out through direct messages to ask questions about the vaccine or other health-related concerns, Murry said.
His campaign even got a nod from Little Rock-based television station KATV. Reporter Desmond Nugent interviewed Murry for a story that aired on Jan. 19.
In the interview and in his social media messages, Murry tried to explain that the coronavirus vaccines were approved for emergency use to treat the virus and prevent it from spreading. He said it is normal for the COVID-19 vaccine development to seem unorthodox. Murry encourages the public to reach out to their primary care physicians regarding pre-existing conditions and for more information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Information is available for you to go out and do your own reading. I will never tell someone, ‘Yes, you need to get the vaccine,’ but I will encourage it,” Murry said.
Murry was one of the first African American males to graduate from the UCA School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During his time at UCA, Murry was an active member of the Student Government Association, Students for the Propagation of Black Culture and the Iota Pi chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. Murry was also a student-athlete for the UCA Bears football team. He met his wife, Nikeba Davis-Murry ’98, at UCA.
Murry has continued making an impact in the community and on the university in his postgraduate endeavors. Murry is a charter member and current president of the Black Alumni Chapter through the UCA Alumni Association. In late 2020, Murry was appointed to the UCA Foundation board. He served as fundraising chair for Phi Beta Sigma during the construction of Greek Village II. Murry also serves as regional director for the Southwestern Region of Phi Beta Sigma.
Murry said he plans to continue his health care campaigns beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
“The experience was an eye-opener for me, I learned that people are not just out there for me to post pictures of fun stuff. As long as I am able to, I will promote health care and use the platforms I have,” Murry said.