Health Advice



For Kurdish Americans in Nashville, a beloved leader's death prompts vaccine push

Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Speaking Kurdish and Being Patient Can Help

Her own mother, Suad Abdulla, has been among the hesitant, or at least those who have been slow to get a COVID-19 shot. These days, Abdulla works as an English-language instructor in Nashville’s public schools, but as a child she lived in refugee camps in Turkey and has scars from vaccinations on both arms.

“They were not switching syringes [between patients]. They were just putting it over the fire to sanitize it and use[d] the same needle to inject us with the vaccinations,” she said.

At this point, it’s not a question for Abdulla of whether COVID-19 is a serious threat. She knows it is: Her uncle spent weeks in the hospital with a severe case.

Still, she felt reluctant to get the vaccine and concerned that there could be long-term side effects that aren’t yet known.

“We want to be fully knowledgeable with what we are putting in our body,” she said. “We want solid data to give us evidence that this will work and won’t cause adverse effects that are worse than the virus itself.”


And yet, daughter Sumaya, with her pre-med knowledge and her pharmacy work experience, kept talking to her about it, explaining how the vaccines work and emphasizing how effective they’re proving to be.

It took a while to convince her — many weeks after teachers first became eligible to get their vaccine in Tennessee. “But eventually she gave in, thankfully,” Muhamed said.

Half-kidding, her mother said she would take the vaccine on one condition — that her daughter give it to her. So Muhamed saw her opening and, at a recent Salahadeen Center event, gave her mom the first dose before she could change her mind.

This story is part of a partnership that includes WPLN, NPR and KHN.

(c)2021 Kaiser Health News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC