A lot of people have great memories of their childhood and, in moments of nostalgia would love to go back. I have some of those type of memories, but by and large, I try not to relive the hardships of my early years because they continue to threaten the wholesomeness of my perspective.
I remember going without shoes and building a callous layer of skin on the bottom of my feet that very few things could penetrate when walking and running. One day however, I stepped on a 2 x 4 that had a rusty nail. The family did not take it seriously because it happened so often. In my case, the fever and the pain of my infection was so severe that I floated in and out of consciousness.At the time for us, there was no such thing as going to see a doctor and getting a Tentnus shot. Besides, no one associated the rusty nail with my illness.
Getting medical attention was generally something done at home with “remedios.” It was not until we came to Colorado and my baby sister got sick that we all had to take a series of shots at Colorado General in order to be allowed to take her home.
Ironically, some of this is still going on especially in rural areas and among members of communities that see vaccines as political statements. For the rest, getting medical attention and flu shots does not register as a priority.
This is especially true when there is little or no insurance. So when people are told that they can get a vaccine for free it is startling.
My son helps run a large Air Force base in south Georgia where COVID-19 vaccines are received and administered to the airman. He mentioned in one of our conversations that there were a significant number of personnel that did not want to take the vaccine.
A recent report in the Air Force Times confirms that one third of those eligible to have the vaccine are declining. When we spread this type of reticence across the general population in the United States you can see what we are up against.
For many Latinos, it is even more difficult because this has not been of cultural importance. For example, in this community, unless you are elderly you seldom think of taking an annual flu shot. The current experiences by family members and friends with COVID however can be important lessons for the community especially for Latinos as they are dying at the rate of 2.3 times the rate of Whites and are only surpassed by Native Americans (2.4). So we have a lot of work to do to make sure that the community focuses on the need to be protected against the virus.
I have a very close friend and his wife in Mexico City that contracted the Coronavirus at a mercado. I called him almost every day for 3 weeks until they recovered.
He tells me that in Mexico the possibility of getting the vaccine immediately depends in part on your station in life and ability to pay for that type of special attention. As sad as this commentary is, it does not reach the level of those in this country that are refusing to take the vaccine even after we have over half a million deaths and counting in America.
Another pandemic will most likely visit us within the next few years. This is the time to create a new and effective cultural response.