Wednesday, October 20

I urge everyone to get vaccinated

I urge everyone to get vaccinated

In New York there is a campaign so that people do not fear the vaccine.

Photo: Michael Appleton / Courtesy

I am a front line healthcare worker and have seen the dire effects of this pandemic up close, every day, for nine months.

In my role as an orderly, I transport critically ill men and women through the hospital and have taken too many to the morgue. It’s a terrifying scene in there, with many people hooked up to fans, desperately struggling to breathe and stay alive as a second wave threatens us.

I also had the honor of being one of the first people in New York State to receive the new coronavirus vaccine. I received the vaccine on December 14th and have had absolutely no side effects.

I and thousands of workers in my union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, have been at the forefront during this crisis, risking our own health to save the lives of others. Many of my colleagues are waiting to voluntarily take the vaccine, which has been shown to be safe and effective.

One of the main reasons I wanted to take it right away was because I have hardly seen my family members during this pandemic: my mother, my father, my nieces, my nephews, and my 86-year-old grandmother. It is painful not to be able to see your loved ones for fear of infecting them with this disease. My hope is that this vaccine will help me get closer to my family again and enjoy their company.

I urge everyone to get vaccinated, especially people of color, who are more likely to suffer the severe effects of this deadly disease.

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that Latinos are 4.1 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die than whites. Blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die from the disease than whites.

I am a proud Puerto Rican. These are our communities and it is hard to see how this disease has hurt us so much. There is an understandable mistrust in our communities because of the speed at which the vaccine was developed and because the history of medical discrimination and racism in America is real.

But the truth is that the vaccine is the only thing that will stop this virus and protect us all. Covid-19 is not a joke. Now is the time to believe in science and get vaccinated, and I am proud to be one of the healthcare workers leading the way and spreading the word.

If we come together – all of us in America – we will eventually defeat this disease. Our health and our lives depend on it.

(Rosa, 35, is a patient orderly at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where she has worked for 13 years.)

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