The Pennsylvania Latino Affairs Commission hosted a discussion about the importance of ensuring Latinx communities in Pennsylvania receive reliable and trustworthy information about COVID-19 vaccines. The panel discussion, led by Second Lady Gisele Fetterman and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, took place during a Facebook Live event entitled Vax Facts: Privacy and Safety for the Latinx Communities. This event is the third in a series that seeks to provide relevant and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and address the questions of concerned citizens.
Second Lady Fetterman and Acting Physician General Dr. Johnson were joined by panelists Will Gonzalez, Executive Director of Ceiba, and Dr. Sarah Ramirez to answer vaccine-related safety and privacy questions, encourage members of the Latinx community to get vaccinated and promote a healthier, safer Latinx community in Pennsylvania.
“My family experienced the devastation of COVID firsthand with the tragic loss of my uncle and two aunts,” said Second Lady Fetterman. “It makes sense to be hesitant about anything that’s new, but research has shown that getting vaccinated against COVID carries infinitely fewer risks than getting sick with COVID. I was so excited to get the vaccine because I want to do everything I can to keep my family safe from further harm, and I want to help protect the loved ones in your family, too.”
“COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at developing immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19 and preventing severe illness or hospitalization due to the virus,” Acting Physician General Dr. Johnson said. “Some people may experience side effects after getting vaccinated, but these are normal signs that the body is building immunity. Currently, everyone age 12 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine, no matter their immigration status. It’s important to remember that the vaccines are also free, so individuals should never be asked for a credit card number or payment to make an appointment. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available, which is why it is essential that everyone who is eligible strongly considers getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“We are not going to make progress unless we all get vaccinated,” said Gonzalez. “One of the most important things in life is good health. Let’s not be selfish, let’s help others get vaccinated. We cannot let lies and other obstacles get in the way of our community’s good health.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been among the longest and hardest trials our nation has endured,” said Dr. Ramirez. “It has damaged physical health, mental health and our economy. One year ago, science was sprinting to learn all we could about this disease and today we have vaccines.
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of reaching low-income communities, especially with COVID-19 vaccination. Evidence shows that non-white populations have died from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than white populations in nearly every state. We cannot expect people to find resources; these resources must come to the people and they must come in a way that is easily accessed and understood. Any barrier, any limitation, any misconception can mean life or death for someone and most often this occurs in our underserved communities. It is our responsibility to place boots on the ground and do the work that needs to be done to reach the most vulnerable.”
The Vax Facts panel discussed topics including where to find accurate and reliable information about vaccines and the importance of privacy and accessibility for all Latinx communities, no matter your immigration status.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone who wants it, regardless of immigration status, including people who do not have health insurance. A Social Security Number or government ID are also not required. Any personal information collected by a vaccine provider is confidential and can only be used for public health purposes.
Every Thursday, Vax Facts panel discussions will continue to dive into topics around the COVID-19 vaccine, specifically highlighting vaccine hesitancy and the communities that it effects most. The next conversation will be held on Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 12 PM and will focus on vaccine concerns related to the LGBTQ community.