Up until this COVID Pandemic, I hardly paid special attention to the onslaught of flu and other viral diseases that came and went in the United States during my life time. I did think about “unusual” outbreaks like HIV and Ebola because they created a sensation in the media, the movies and were something of a phenomenon.
As for the flu, I would just get infected and suffered the two-week crisis before going on with my life. I never thought of getting a vaccine for that as it has been part of my life to be sick of colds and sometimes the flu.
This is not to say that there were no severe consequences to my episodes of colds. As a matter of fact, it was a cold and taking cold medicine that made me fall asleep and almost end my life on a U.S. 85 bridge in Derby, Colorado.
My history with vaccines and shots goes back to a requirement that we as a family had to fulfill in order to get our newly-born sister home. I remember a week of day-long visits to Colorado General Hospital in order to get injected with a variety of medicines.
The last big round of vaccines and other injections that I experienced was as part of my introduction to the United States Air Force in San Antonio, Texas. There, they just lined me up for all injections and a new set of military clothes.
COVID-19 was the first virus that made me fear for my life and that of my family. The tragedies around me and other Latinos as well as the drastic interruption of life this past year has been the story of families across the country.
The tale of the Spanish sur-named nationally is worse as the Coronavirus is “disproportionately sickening Latinos.” This community has the highest incidents of cases and deaths per capita.
Although Latinos represent 18.5 percent of the U.S. population they comprise 28.8 percent of COVID cases and 34 percent of the deaths in the country.
The nation has just reached COVID milestone as 50 percent of adult Americans have been vaccinated. While that is to be celebrated, the Raza vaccination rate is disappointing low as only 12 percent of the vaccinated population is Latino.
Some time ago, I had a long telephone conversation with a cousin in Central Texas who frequently goes to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas to see family. The result of the last visit included several of the family members contracting COVID.
The pressure to find ways to be together cannot be allowed to outweigh the need to be protected against COVID. The urgency to vaccinate also comes from the fact that the majority of work related activities for the Latino community requires frequent contact with other people.
There are a large number of public comments about the biases and inequities that are said to be holding Latinos back from overcoming the virus. However, we cannot allow that to be a barrier to our health, especially in Colorado where there has been so much effort to make access to the vaccine a priority.
The vaccine is free to the public and one does not have to prove lawful presence to be eligible. There are multiple agencies and sites in the neighborhoods that serve our vaccine needs.
For those that can look up things online, you can get started on information about availability, and where to go by accessing the State of Colorado Website at covid19.colorado.gov.