Hall-of-Famer Harry Carson Gets a Shot to Protect

April 15, 2021

Harry Carson is well-known across New Jersey for his strength and ferocity on the football field. He spent 13 years as a linebacker playing at the highest level and on the greatest stage. Today, the Hall-of-Famer—like so many New Jersey residents—is facing the COVID-19 pandemic with the same attitude of strength and ferocity.

In December 2020, Harry co-authored an article with Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett on the inequalities in health care. The article, which appeared in USA Today, emphasized the importance of people of color participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials and getting vaccinated.

We spoke with Harry about his personal experience with COVID-19 and how he hopes to serve as an example, particularly for marginalized communities, when it comes to receiving the vaccine and beating the virus.

Tell us about your personal experience with COVID-19.

I had my own experience with COVID early in March 2020. I had body aches for a few days, but I was very lucky that it was a slight, quick bout and I was able to bounce back. So many people—especially those in minority communities—didn’t deal with COVID for a few days but rather for many days.

I am happy there is a vaccine, but I think so much about those who passed away from the virus and the families dealing with that void.

Did you get the COVID-19 vaccine?

When I became eligible, I jumped in line and got vaccinated. My wife and my mother-in-law, who is in her 70s and lives with us, came, too. I know it’s safe and very effective.

I have some underlying health concerns and some blood clotting issues, and my wife and mother-in-law also have some health issues. Because of our susceptibility to complications from the virus, we have to do everything we can to protect ourselves. We also feel honored to be able to do our part to protect others.

I’m proud to serve as an example, especially for those in the African American community, to beat this virus. Many people in minority communities are afraid to go to the hospital or seek care when they need it. I want to encourage them to be proactive about maintaining their health and go to the doctor.

Why do you think it’s important that all New Jersey residents consider receiving the vaccine?

I want to do everything I can to let people know the vaccine is nothing to be afraid of.

With COVID-19, everyone needs to understand that if you don’t get the vaccine, you can catch it and possibly die. Don’t do it just for yourself. Think of your family and children, and do it for them, as well.

But remember, even with the vaccine, it’s not over. We have to maintain social distancing and wear masks. It’s not about you; it’s about the people around you. We have to do everything we can to get back to normal.

What lessons from your football career have you applied when dealing with the virus and pandemic?

I was part of a team that understood what winning was all about. The best teams I was a part of understood we had to put aside our differences, become a team and be focused on our key mission: Do the best you can do, and be the best you can be for your teammates and the team.

With COVID-19, everybody is on the same team. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how much money you make, what your religion is or what your political position is. When it comes to the vaccine, I strongly encourage people to not be afraid, but to step forward and do it, if not for yourself, for others in your home and community.

What are you most looking forward to in a post-COVID world?

I have three grandchildren whom I haven’t seen much of since March 2020. I desperately want to get back to spending time with them and with all my family members. I am doing this for my family.

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