LOS ANGELES — It took some time for Kashae Hood to feel comfortable getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hood was concerned about potential side effects, but as the number of positive cases has continued to rise due to the delta variant, she decided it was a good time to get the shot. 

What You Need To Know

  • This week LA County announced an 80% increase in the number of COVID cases

  • As the delta variant spreads, clinics and providers are working to vaccinate anyone in LA who still has not received a shot

  • St. Johns Well Child and Family Center have vaccinated more than 270,000 people

  • In recent weeks vaccination rates have slowed

“I was hearing a lot of people say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to take it. I’m not going to take it. We don’t know what’s in it.’ But the longer the virus stayed around — and now there are different strands — it worried me,” she said.

Hood visited St. Johns Well Child and Family Center on Thursday for her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I’m excited,” she said.

Hood is a mom of three and received all her prenatal care at St. Johns, an organization serving low-income, uninsured and under-insured people in Los Angeles.

They have been instrumental in vaccinating thousands of people across the city, but nurses at St. Johns said they are seeing fewer people, like Hood, who have changed their minds about the shot.

At their peak, nurses were vaccinating close to 200 people per day, and now, it is more like 20.

“People are still iffy about taking it. A lot of people stopped getting vaccinated when the mask mandate dropped,” said Denise Saldana, a practical nurse at St. Johns.

In LA County, the mask mandate returned for indoors as COVID-19 cases soar. This week, LA County reported an 80% increase in positive cases with 655 people currently hospitalized.

Instead of waiting for more people to be vaccinated, St. Johns is offering the vaccine to them at every opportunity. The center provides multiple services, including prenatal care, dentistry, mental health support, pediatrics and general checkups.

At every opportunity, receptionists, physicians and pharmacists are offering people the vaccine. If someone has not received their shot yet, they can get one right away at the center.

“Every patient touch is an opportunity to try and get people vaccinated,” said Dr. Matt Welzenbach, a physician at St. Johns. “Even with 30% of Californians not having the vaccine, that’s millions and millions of people.”

Welzenback further added that the group of people currently hesitating about being vaccinated is the most difficult to convince.

“There’s a lot of hesitation among people who have not been vaccinated for different reasons. The most common one is people being concerned that this is a new thing, that it was developed too quickly,” he said.

On Thursday, Kenia Amaya, a social worker, was visiting the center for a COVID-19 test. She had been exposed to the virus.

“One of my coworkers tested positive,” she said.  

Amaya is pregnant and said she did not feel comfortable getting the shot. “I’m pregnant, I don’t know — there’s not enough research out there about how the COVID vaccine affects the baby. I want to wait until I actually give birth, and then I will get the vaccine.”

For Hood, however, receiving her final dose of Pfizer was a relief.

“I feel good!” she said.

Being vaccinated presents new opportunities, and until now, she had not been able to help at her children’s daycare center.

“They’re in a summer program, and they said parents can come volunteer, but you have to be vaccinated. Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m excited,” Hood said.