Connect with us

Coronavirus

More Black Californians Taking COVID Shot as U.S. Reviews Vaccines for Younger Kids

Even as vaccination booster shots are becoming more readily available around the country, the COVID-19 Delta variant remains a significant threat in the U.S. and around the world. So, public health leaders are focused on expanding efforts get as many people as possible access to vaccinations and booster shots.

Published

on

Stock image of a doctor placing a bandaid on a young black female patient after a vaccination sitting on her mother's lap

Black Californians have joined Black Americans around the country in closing the COVID-19 vaccine equity gap.

As of October 11, Black Californians were 4.2% of Californians who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, up from 2.7% in February, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).  About 5.7% of the state’s population of nearly 40 million people are Black.

“Through our investments in targeted outreach and robust community-based partnerships, our work continues to reach the hardest-hit communities. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom last week.  “I encourage all eligible Californians to visit MyTurn.ca.gov to schedule an appointment for their first dose or find a booster shot to keep themselves and their community healthy.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine equity gap is narrowing across the United States as about 11% of the people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine are Black Americans, a group that makes up 12.4% of the U.S. population.

U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, spoke with California Black Media last week about the importance of equity in the nation’s pandemic response.

“The way we define success with the vaccination effort isn’t just how many people got vaccinated, but how equitably and fairly we get the vaccine to people across our country,” Murthy said.

“We know that there are communities in our country that have been long underserved by the healthcare system and the victims of structural inequities and structural racism that have prevented them from getting the care that they need,” he continued.

Murthy spoke about some of the equity challenges leaders faced at the beginning of the pandemic. The approach the feds took to address some of those difficulties was similar to California’s strategy.

“Early on in the vaccination effort, we saw those disparities developing in the adult population with Black communities and Latino communities having lower vaccination rates than White communities,” Murthy said.

“But the good news is there has been a lot of effort over the last many months, which included a lot of outreach and partnerships with communities of color, with leaders and organizations in those communities, working hard to make sure we had mobile units out getting to communities to bring vaccines to where people are and getting vaccines directly to community health centers where we know a lot of folks get their care. All of these efforts together, along with making sure the vaccines are free and making sure as many doctors as possible have the vaccine in their offices, has helped us close a lot of that equity gap,” Murthy continued.

Even as vaccination booster shots are becoming more readily available around the country, the COVID-19 Delta variant remains a significant threat in the U.S. and around the world. So, public health leaders are focused on expanding efforts get as many people as possible access to vaccinations and booster shots.

“California is leading the nation in vaccinations, with 52 million administered and 86% of the eligible population having received at least one dose – today’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommendation on booster shots will help keep the momentum going as we enter the winter months,” Newsom said last week.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Last week, the workgroup recommended booster shots for vulnerable people and those who live or work in high-risk settings – if they have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine prior.

“Recipients of the Moderna vaccine may receive a booster shot six months after completing their primary vaccination series, and recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may receive a booster shot two months after receiving their first dose,” the governor’s office said in a statement last week.

The workgroup also recommended a “mix-and-match” method, which means people who have received a Moderna vaccine can get a Johnson & Johnson booster shot and vice-versa.

Earlier this month, Newsom announced that California will be the first state in the nation to require children in middle school and high school to be vaccinated once COVID-19 vaccines for children are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA and the CDC will review data from Pfizer during the next two weeks to decide if COVID-19 vaccines are safe for even younger children, ages 5 through 11.

“Right now, what is happening is that the FDA is examining the data from Pfizer about clinical trials that concern kids 5-11 and they’re looking for two things: first is to understand if these vaccines work to protect our children from COVID and second, are they safe,” Murthy explained.

“Until they complete their review and make a decision on whether or not to offer the vaccine, we certainly won’t recommend them to the public or make a move to roll out vaccines. It’s all contingent upon the FDA’s review and the CDC’s recommendation,” according to Murthy.

Murthy also addressed the myth that young children are somehow immune to the effects of COVID-19.

“Even though kids do better than adults when it comes to COVID-19, it is not benign in children. We want to protect our children from the virus, and we also know that COVID has disrupted our kids’ lives in terms of making school difficult, interrupting youth sports, and making it hard to see friends and family members. So, getting our kids vaccinated is a big step towards not only protecting their health but helping them get their lives back,” Murthy said.

Murthy stressed the importance of equity and said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will continue to employ the same methods for children as they did for adults if the FDA and CDC approve vaccines for children in the 5-11 age range.

“We will bring the same commitment to vaccinating kids under 12. We are building on the great partnerships we have with community-based organizations and trusted leaders across the country. We are building on the access points that we’ve set up in the past and increasing those even further so there will be tens of thousands of places where people can get a vaccine for their children,” Murthy said.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activism

Tony Thurmond Starts Second Term as State Addresses Educational Inequity

“We’re offering scholarships for anyone who wants to become a teacher. $20,000,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Tony Thurmond told California Black Media. “I sponsored a bill, HB 520, that was focused on how we get more male educators of color. And that bill turned into funding in the state budget. That now means our residency programs can be used to help have male educators of color as part of the beneficiaries of that program.”

Published

on

State Supt. of Public Instruction speaks with a student after his swearing in on Jan. 7. Photo by Max Elramsisy, California Black Media.
State Supt. of Public Instruction speaks with a student after his swearing in on Jan. 7. Photo by Max Elramsisy, California Black Media.

By Max Elramsisy | California Black Media

State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Tony Thurmond took the oath of office to begin his second term on Jan. 7 at a ceremony conducted at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles.

Thurmond oversees the education of 6 million PreK-12 students in over 1,000 public school districts across California.

Although SPI is a non-partisan office, Thurmond drew support from many of the state’s top Democrats in his bid for re-election, including from Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and several members of the California Legislative Black Caucus. He was also endorsed by unions across the state, including the California Federation of Teachers and California Teachers Association.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona performed the ceremonial swearing in of Thurmond, who then reflected on his path to the office. The son of a Panamanian immigrant mother and Vietnam veteran father who did not return to his family after the war, Thurmond and his brother were raised by their cousin and relied on public assistance programs and public schools to make it out of poverty.

“I am standing on the shoulders of those relatives who struggle and sacrifice so that we could have a better life,” Thurmond said after he was sworn in. “It was the sacrifices of teachers and classified staff and childcare workers and school administrators who make it possible for me to stand here today as your public servant fighting for 6 million students in the great state of California.”

Thurmond’s first term coincided with one of the most tumultuous periods in California’s history — a time, he says, that brought with it many unforeseen challenges.

“We all watched it together. The lives lost and impacted and disrupted by the pandemic,” Thurmond said before naming other cultural, social and political developments the country endured as the COVID-19 crisis intensified.

“The killing of George Floyd, fighting hate against the Asian American Pacific Islander community, racism targeted directly to African American families, anti-Semitism, the mistreatment of Latino families, immigrant families, we have seen so much hate all in such a short period of time that we would move into a pandemic and find out that, in a state with all the wealth that we have in California, that a million students could be without a computer,” Thurmond added. “That is the most important thing that they needed to be connected to in those early days through remote learning.”

Thurmond says his administration stepped up to address challenges presented by the pandemic.

“We know that the impact this has had clearly affected student proficiency levels where they are now compared to where they were a few years before the pandemic and of course, a deep, deep impact on the mental health of our students and our families,” he said.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in depression and anxiety and hospitalizations for children and it has been difficult for them,” Thurmond continued. “But our children are more than the sum of their circumstances. They’ve demonstrated their resiliency, and they’re on the path to recovery, and we’re going to help them with that because we just secured enough money to recruit 10,000 counselors for our schools in the state of California.”

The addition of counselors is good news for teachers across the state seeking resources to help their students recover and develop in areas outside of academics where school also plays a crucial role for many students.

“I was very excited when Superintendent Thurman said that there would be 10,000 counselors coming to the school sites because we need that,” said Bridgette Donald-Blue, an elementary school math teacher and California Teacher of the Year award recipient. “The emotional health of our students, that is important, that is very important.”

The SPI does not have any legislative role. But Thurmond, who served in the California State Assembly for two terms, sponsored or endorsed several legislative initiatives that may have a profound effect on the future of education in California and the role that schools play to meet the social and emotional needs of students to provide a positive learning environment.

Thurmond says, beginning in the 2022–23 school year, the California Universal School Meal Program will help all students to reach their full academic potential by providing a nutritiously adequate breakfast and lunch at no charge for all children each school day regardless of individual eligibility.

Thurmond also has initiatives to combat inequities in the school system including universal preschool for 4-year-olds regardless of background, race, zip code, immigration status, or income level. He also launched the Black Student Achievement Taskforce to help quantify the impacts systemic and institutional racism have had on Black students in California.

Thurmond points out that he sponsored legislation to increase funding to the lowest-performing students, ban suspension and expulsions in preschools, and secured $90 million for suspensions and chronic absenteeism programming.

“I know the impacts of what happens when our students don’t learn to read by third grade. Sadly, they end up dropping out in many cases and in the criminal justice system, and we’re going to change the narrative and flip the script. We’re going to educate, not incarcerate our kids.” Thurmond repeated a pledge for today’s kindergarteners to be able to “read by third grade.”

Recently, some education advocates pointed out that there has been a reported wave of retirements and disincentives that have led to an unprecedented teacher shortage across the nation.

In response, Thurmond says he is creating new incentives to draw qualified people into the school system to help students, especially those who are of color.

“We’re offering scholarships for anyone who wants to become a teacher. $20,000,” Thurmond told California Black Media. “I sponsored a bill, HB 520, that was focused on how we get more male educators of color. And that bill turned into funding in the state budget. That now means our residency programs can be used to help have male educators of color as part of the beneficiaries of that program.”

Continue Reading

Activism

Marin Small-Business Owners Put Microgrants to Good Use

The Marin Microbusiness Grant Program was funded by the State of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA). The County of Marin, the Marin Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Dominican University of California partnered on program oversight. The partnership was strengthened by the strategic connections made with more than a dozen local nonprofit organizations that facilitated the connection with microbusiness owners with a gross annual revenue less than $50,000.

Published

on

Small Business Development Center promoted the Marin Microbusiness Grant Program during an event at Canal Alliance in San Rafael earlier this year.
Small Business Development Center promoted the Marin Microbusiness Grant Program during an event at Canal Alliance in San Rafael earlier this year.

More than 100 recipients received state COVID-19 economic relief funding with County assistance

San Rafael, CA – Laila Rezai and Darlin Ruiz have something new in common. They are among the 111 small-business owners in Marin County who received a timely $2,500 grant through an agency partnership dedicated to assisting some of the hardest-hit microbusinesses during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

The Small Business Development Center promoted the Marin Microbusiness Grant Program during an event at Canal Alliance in San Rafael earlier this year.

Rezai, an artist and designer, was among the beneficiaries of the Marin Microbusiness Grant Program[External] to use the one-time-only funds for payment of business debts, new equipment, or other costs from pandemic-related business interruptions. Rezai used the money to relocate from a commercial space to home and purchase a laptop to help reduce ongoing business costs.

“For the first time in almost two decades, I’m enjoying working from home,” Rezai said. “The adjustment also means I’ll have a smaller carbon footprint since I don’t need to commute.”

The Marin Microbusiness Grant Program was funded by the State of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA). The County of Marin, the Marin Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Dominican University of California partnered on program oversight. The partnership was strengthened by the strategic connections made with more than a dozen local nonprofit organizations that facilitated the connection with microbusiness owners with a gross annual revenue less than $50,000.

Medina, who runs a house cleaning service, was connected to the grant program by way of an in-person fair coordinated by Canal Alliance and attended by SBDC. He said it came as a blessing as he continues to struggle to find work. “I clean houses on my own account, but after the pandemic work is and remains very scarce,” Medina said. He used the funds to purchase cleaning supplies and print business cards.

“I really needed a vacuum cleaner, but they are quite expensive. With that (grant) money I was able to get one,” Medina said.

The application period opened March 23 and closed June 30. Out of 211 applications, 148 were deemed qualified for the grants after a review process. A random lottery, utilizing a verified website, was used to select the recipients. The grants were distributed this fall to a diverse group of businesses from throughout the county with these overall statistics:

  • 61% of awardees were women
  • 5 were military veterans
  • 51% were minorities
  • 50% came from the fields of art/entertainment; professional or technical services; and housecleaning and janitorial.
  • 50% were located in San Rafael, Novato, and West Marin.

Miriam Karell of the Marin SBDC said the community-led approach led to a great deal of the grant program’s success. “Some of our lessons learned include the importance of partnering with local agencies to offer in-person support at events, providing culturally appropriate interpretation support, and spending time with the applicants to help them understand the process and filling out the application with them.”

Jamillah Jordan, Marin County Equity Director, was especially pleased that more than half of the funds were allocated to minority-owned businesses, “especially given only 27% of our population is made of people who identify as a person of color,” she said.

“This funding made a difference for these business owners,” Karell said. “As we look at the data of who applied and received the grants, we were pleased our efforts were able to offer support to underserved populations.”

Creating the local program and accepting the state funding was contingent on the County of Marin’s participation.

For more information, visit MarinSBDC.org.

Continue Reading

Activism

The Updated Booster is Here, Just in Time for the Holiday Season

The facts speak for themselves: vaccines and boosters have undeniable benefits. These tools are what is best for your children as we continue to fight against COVID-19. To prevent severe outcomes, including long COVID, I strongly recommend all parents consider getting their children vaccinated and boosted. If you remain uncertain, don’t hesitate to speak with your child’s doctor and get the facts from someone you trust.

Published

on

Wearing a mask in public indoor spaces also helps slow the spread of many different respiratory viruses including RSV, flu and COVID-19.
Wearing a mask in public indoor spaces also helps slow the spread of many different respiratory viruses including RSV, flu and COVID-19. (Photo: Dr. Jerry Abraham, MD, CMQ, MPH)

By Dr. Jerry Abraham, MD, CMQ, MPH

Thanksgiving is next week, and Christmas is around the corner. The holiday season has officially arrived. Now that the updated booster authorized for individuals as young as 5, we’re even closer to ensuring the whole family is protected during fall and winter when the spread of respiratory viruses is at its peak.

The booster has been updated to strengthen protection against the original coronavirus strain while also targeting the dominant Omicron subvariants that have recently spread widely and continue to infect many. We all need to get boosted, and there are groups we need to ensure are protected – children 5 years and older, older adults and those most at risk for serious infection.

As for our older adults, your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 goes up as you age, and COVID-19 booster doses can help lower the risk of severe illness, long-term effects, hospitalization and death. This means less strain on our hospitals, less risk to our most vulnerable populations and less worry for you and your loved ones this holiday season.

recent study found that overall life expectancy for Californians decreased by three years and noted higher-than-average decreases in life expectancy for Hispanic and Black Californians due to their exposure to higher COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates. That’s why older adults are encouraged to prioritize vaccination to stay safer from severe outcomes and achieve your highest level of health and well-being.

And for parents, I know many of you are feeling fear and uncertainty around getting your children vaccinated and boosted because you want to be sure you make the best choice for your children’s health and futures. Misinformation that is largely spread online and on social media amplifies apprehension and confusion about vaccines.

But the facts speak for themselves: vaccines and boosters have undeniable benefits. These tools are what is best for your children as we continue to fight against COVID-19. To prevent severe outcomes, including long COVID, I strongly recommend all parents consider getting their children vaccinated and boosted. If you remain uncertain, don’t hesitate to speak with your child’s doctor and get the facts from someone you trust.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get the updated booster at least two months following their last dose, whether that was their primary series or following a booster dose. Getting vaccinated and boosted lowers the risk of contracting, spreading, and getting severely ill from COVID-19.

The updated boosters will help children’s and older adults’ immune systems fight off a wider variety of variants that we most likely will see during the flu season.

The booster is similar to flu vaccines, where the components of the flu vaccine are updated to help protect against the specific flu viruses circulating that year. Similarly, COVID-19 boosters are updated to protect us against the newest variants of COVID-19.

If you are under-vaccinated or unvaccinated, the risk of complications and death increases. Get vaccinated and boosted to protect older loved ones, young children, immunocompromised friends, family and neighbors.

Wearing a mask in public indoor spaces also helps slow the spread of many different respiratory viruses including RSV, flu and COVID-19.

Everyday preventative actions like staying home when you feel sick, frequent handwashing, covering your cough, avoiding close contact with sick people, wearing a mask in public indoor spaces and getting vaccinated or boosted can help protect you and your family, especially as we head into the colder months. To schedule an appointment for a vaccination or a booster, visit MyTurn.ca.gov.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending