Wednesday was the day Dr. J Mack Slaughter has been dreaming of for at least nine months.
He splits his time between medical centers, but his primary job is working in the emergency room at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth.
Slaughter has been treating COVID-19 patients since March.
He says he has prayed during every shift that he wouldn’t contract the virus and take it home to his young family or, perhaps worse, spread it to his parents – both cancer survivors.
“It’s been hard being an ER doctor. From afar people call me a hero, and I’m very honored. But up close you feel like a leper because of people’s assumptions that you have COVID,” he said in a video he posted to Facebook on Wednesday as he was entering the hospital to get the vaccine.
Despite being exposed on an almost daily basis, Slaughter has not contracted the virus.
He choked up talking about the layer of protection the coronavirus vaccine will provide.
“To know that barrier will be lifted between myself and my friends and family is something I’ve been dreaming about from day one. And I know this is something the whole world has been dreaming about,” he said.
Slaughter was the subject of a WFAA Original that aired in early 2020.
Before going to medical school he was in Sons of Harmony, a boy band based in North Texas. He was also an actor.
But he was inspired to change careers during his mother’s battle with cancer.
He founded a nonprofit organization called Music Meets Medicine to encourage music therapy in North Texas children’s hospitals.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, he made regular visits to Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. He would play his guitar, sing, and offer lessons to patients.
In his Wednesday video, he tried to allay fears about the vaccine.
He said he isn’t afraid of side effects and explained one reason vaccine research often takes a long time is because of a lack of funding – which was not a problem for the COVID-19 vaccine.
He also acknowledged the shot is different because it uses messenger RNA technology, which has never been used for a vaccine before.
“It’s 2020 and of course we should be using different technology,” he said. “Of course things should be advancing!”
Slaughter ended his video with a plea to the public.
“We’re here. We did it. Let’s do this!” he said. “Let’s vaccinate and protect each other. Let’s move on, man! 2021 is going to be a beautiful year."