By: Manny Otiko, IVN
Rialto, CA — Joseph Williams lives in Rialto. He is community agent of strategic partnerships at the Rialto Unified School District, and also serves as a trustee on the San Bernardino Community College District Board. He is also the founder of Youth Action Project, a non-profit that prepares local young people for college and workplace success.
Williams believes it is important for people to be active in the life and affairs of your local community.
“It took me at least six months to get vaccinated,” he said in the video created with in partnership with VaccinateALL58, California’s COVID-19 awareness program.
But now, Williams said that getting the vaccination is about public safety, and it brings up some tough questions.
“How do we respect one another? And how do we keep one another safe?” said Williams in the video.
The San Bernardino County Department of Health reports that the vaccines were heavily tested before they were released to the public.
“The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for evaluating the efficacy and safety of drugs, including vaccines. Vaccines undergo a rigorous review of laboratory, clinical and manufacturing data to ensure the safety, effectiveness, and quality,” according to San Bernardino County Department of Heath’s website.
Like Williams, many African Americans are reluctant about taking new medical treatments such as the coronavirus vaccination. Public health experts say this hesitancy stems, in part, from the legacy of infamous incidents such as the Tuskegee Experiment, which involved a group of African American men. The men were used guinea pigs in an investigation of the effects of untreated syphilis. The highly unethical Tuskegee Experiment was shut down in 1972. President Bill Clinton apologized for the incident in 1997.
In California, African Americans lag other groups in vaccination rates. According to data from the San Bernardino County Health Department, about 65 % of county residents are vaccinated.
Only 30 % of African Americans in the county are fully vaccinated. Across the state, the death rate resulting from COVID-19 is 15 % higher for Black Californians than the statewide average, according to the California Department of Public Health
Health experts advise people to get vaccinated because it increases their chances of surviving COVID-19. And the numbers are stark. According to local health data, there have been about 980 deaths from unvaccinated people and only 125 deaths from fully vaccinated people.
Medical experts say vaccination is the key to ending the coronavirus pandemic. The virus mutates every time it interacts with new host bodies (unvaccinated bodies.) This produces new even stronger strains of the virus, such as the current Omicron strain. The Omicron strain, which is more infectious than previous strains, is driving the new surge of Covid-19 cases.
“The current authorized COVID-19 vaccines offer a high degree of protection against severe disease, hospitalizations, and death, even from new variants. The vast majority, over 90 % of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are unvaccinated people,” reports the VaccinateAll58 website.
Inland Valley News coverage of local news in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.