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Rolling Up My Sleeve

Judy Belk, President and CEO

I’m now fully vaccinated! I’m so relieved to have received both of my COVID-19 vaccination shots. My arm was a bit sore, as was my pride – since it’s no denying now that I’ve truly joined the senior citizen ranks! It was humbling, but I tried to channel the rapper Pitbull who reminds us, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

Because of my age, I was able to receive the vaccination early.  But the great news is that now  the U.S. is administering  up to 2 million vaccines per day nationally. And I have faith that as President Biden has predicted, we will have enough vaccines for everyone in the country by the end of May. But it’s disappointing to see that there are still major vaccine shortages in underserved communities. And because not all folks have easy internet access, there’s a digital divide as well that’s preventing people from getting vaccinated as quickly as they might have been able to otherwise. These are areas we have to work on remedying.

There’s been news coverage of the reluctance in Black communities to embrace the vaccine, and it’s a big topic of conversation on Black Twitter.  After some initial resistance even among my own siblings —there are understandable historical reasons for trust issues with the vaccine — I’m pleased to say that they followed the science and are now all fully vaccinated. We know firsthand the toll this virus can take; we’re still mourning the loss of our cousin Dino to COVID-19 last spring. But we draw strength from each other during these trying times, and we’re looking forward to a family reunion sometime later this year.

It’s important to emphasize that vaccine reluctance is not the only issue when it comes to vaccinating Black Americans. A recent Pew study found that the majority of Black adults want to get vaccinated. This is also an issue of access. Achieving true vaccine equity is going to take a coordinated effort, as this article points out.

Both vaccine hesitancy and lack of access are good reminders that we still have a lot of work to do to address the pandemic and overcome the painful history many people of color have experienced engaging with the health care system.

And for those of you in Southern California scrambling to assist parents or other elders secure vaccine appointments, here’s the link that worked for me and my fellow senior citizen buddies.

Remember that getting your vaccine doesn’t just benefit you, it contributes to our community developing immunity. That’s because the more of us that get vaccinated, the harder it is for COVID-19 to spread (learn more here). So when it’s your turn, please roll up your sleeve.

CEO Judy Belk smiles directly at camera in front of a dark grey background
President & CEO Judy Belk

Judy Belk leads The California Wellness Foundation in pursuing its mission to improve the health of the people of California. In her role, she uses her vision and her voice to help Cal Wellness “level the playing field” so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and quality health care services.

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