by Betty Jean Grant
Monday, December 14th is a day that will be forever remembered for most of us who have been wearing The Mask since early spring. It is the day when the first Covid 19 vaccine in New York State was administered to a health care worker on Long Island in NYC.
The fact that she was an African American should not play a significant part in who got the first vaccine but to me it does. As we know African Americans and Persons Of Color have disproportionately contracted and died from Covid 19 more than any other race or ethnic group. We also make up the largest group of workers in low level jobs in hospitals and nursing homes. We are exposed to the Coronavirus more and, in turn, unknowingly bring the virus home to our families which sometime consist of several generations of extended members living in the same household.
As of today, over 16 million Americans have contracted the Coronavirus, and over 300,000 have died. As devastating as they are, these numbers would have been much higher if we had not implemented a massive mask, hand sanitizer and social distancing initiative early on. The Covid 19 vaccines will give us an additional way to protect ourselves as we wait for the Coronavirus Pandemic to end.
Although there have been many discussions on whether or not to take the vaccine, we must realize that we need to achieve Herd Immunity in this country in order for the virus to go away. We cannot do that until 80% of the total country population inoculate themselves against the virus. Right now, the number of American citizens stating they will take the vaccine is only around 63%. In African American communities, the percentage is even less.Top that off with a limited supply of vaccines and African Americans always winding up ‘at the end of the line’, we need to make sure that those of us who are willing to take the vaccine are given every opportunity to do so.