Only 45.5 percent of the state’s Black community is at least partially vaccinated, according to California Department of Public Health data. This despite the fact that the virus death rate for Blacks is 9 percent higher than the statewide population.
“The vaccine is here to prevent severe illness and death from the virus,” said Sami Gallegos, press secretary for the state’s COVID-19 task force. “Just because California is open, does not mean that COVID-19 has disappeared.”
Last week, California retired its Blueprint for a Safer Economy and businesses can open at full capacity, with a handful of exceptions. And Gallegos, speaking at a media briefing hosted by California Black Media, suggested caution.
Continuing to wear a mask is just common courtesy, she said. Protecting us from increased COVID-19 surges.
Gallegos joined a panel of healthcare professionals who insisted that increased vaccination numbers are necessary to reduce hospitalizations and save lives.
“Vaccines are our most effective tools,” Gallegos said. “This is our shot to improve the health of our state.”
Although Gov. Gavin Newsom chose the final winners for those inoculated residents who received cash incentives; other incentives from the state are still being offered, including $50 gift cards. Gallegos said a final drawing will be held July 1, when the state will give away six destination packages to lucky recipients.
Despite those incentives, LA County data shows that the percentage of unvaccinated Blacks exceeds that of the general public.
“We still have to be careful and cautious,” said Dr. Jerry Abraham of Kedren Health, who noted that the national hospitalization and death rates are just as high as they were two months ago. “It’s been a difficult 17 months now, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over.”
Abraham said his organization has been getting out into the community and making home visits. They have encountered a host of questions and are working to dispel the variety of myths surrounding the vaccine.
“We engage, we educate and we vaccinate,” Abraham said, adding that the vaccines have gone through rigorous testing through the Food and Drug Administration; there were Black representatives in the vaccine s clinical trials, and the National Medical Association—a Black organization of doctors—has approved the vaccines through an independent review committee.
“All vaccinated persons are 100 percent protected from death due to COVID-19,” he said.
Abraham recommends that families talk up the vaccine to family members—young and old, men, women, and children, as shots are now available to those over the age of 12.
“The faster we all get vaccinated, the faster we all get back to life,” Abraham said. “June is Men’s Health Month and getting vaccinated is the manly thing to do.”
If unable to travel to a vaccine site, the DPH suggests checking with healthcare providers, the local health department, or local pharmacy. Additionally, If someone cannot leave home to get vaccinated, they can indicate this on myturn.ca.gov or when calling the state s COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255. If eligible, they will be connected with a local health jurisdiction to arrange for in-home vaccination services.