Anthony Anderson was ‘on the fence’ about getting vaccinated, but he has a message to share

“Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson and his family saw firsthand how scary it can be to see a loved one test positive for COVID-19.

The actor’s 21-year-old son, Nathan, developed mild symptoms at one point during the past year. Anderson’s aunt also tested positive, and his uncle had “more severe” symptoms that landed him in the hospital “for a time” before making a recovery.

“There’s a slight scare anytime something like this hits close to home,” Anderson told USA TODAY. “We are all unfamiliar with what’s going to happen and how it’s going to affect the individual. But fortunately for us, for our family, everybody came through on the other side 100%.”

Since getting vaccinated in March, Anderson has found some peace of mind and has set out to encourage others to do the same.

Headaches, fever, body aches and chills are all normal side effects of the vaccine, but experts say pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used after the shot to minimize discomfort. Anderson is taking part in Advil’s #AfterMyShot campaign to raise awareness.

The actor even put together a group chat of about 25 family members and friends to encourage those in his circle to get the vaccine. Not everyone was on board right away.

“My mother was on the fence about being vaccinated: ‘Oh, I’m gonna wait, I’m gonna wait,’ ” he recalled her saying. “I was like, ‘Mom, you shouldn’t wait. We should be doing this to protect ourselves, to protect our family, to protect the community.’ ”

Anderson too was “on the fence at one point as well.” The actor urged those who might be hesitant to get the vaccine to do their research. He spoke to his physicians and a doctor friend, who explained why he chose to get vaccinated and shared research that backed up the benefits.

“Learn what being vaccinated can do,” Anderson said. “That’s what I did. I’m only telling people to do what I did.”

The past year and a half was difficult from a mental health perspective for many, Anderson said. He’s been thankful to still have a regular gig. He continued working on his ABC sitcom “Black-ish,” which implemented routine COVID-19 testing, social distancing and other protocols to ensure safety while filming through the pandemic.

“Fortunately for me, I had that type of outlet whereas others did not. In particular close friends and family members who were not going to work, who, for lack of a better word, were trapped and stuck within their four walls at home,” Anderson said.

He said the pandemic has sparked “a lot of self-reflection” and “internal work.”

“What is it that we need to be doing to better ourselves? … What have I learned about myself and my family?” Anderson recalled thinking. “I hope that a lot of people are going to come out of this better people.”

More than a third of all Americans are fully vaccinated and 47.7% have received at least one dose as of Tuesday, according to CDC data.

Anderson is excited to “get back out in the world” this year, golfing and visiting friends he wasn’t able to see during the pandemic.

But he also stressed the importance of staying “responsible”: “Just because I’m vaccinated, doesn’t mean I’m 100% out of the woods. But, you know, it frees me up to do a lot more things that I couldn’t do and I wouldn’t do when I wasn’t vaccinated.”

Also on his to-do list this year: He’ll return to film the eighth and final season of “Black-ish.” Creator Kenya Barris announced Friday the upcoming final season will be their last, which Anderson said is “bittersweet.” He’s glad to be going out “on top,” but anticipates some “tear-filled days” as their time on set comes to an end.

“Just knowing that every day we go to work and every day we wrap, we’re one day closer to the end – it’s going to be emotional for all of us,” he said. “We’ve grown to love and respect and honor one another as a family does. … There’s a connection there that can’t be broken, and we’re all going to miss that. But we will have some great memories that we’ve created over almost a decade.”

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