LOS ANGELES — For the past week, the average of those testing positive for COVID-19 reached 21.8% or 1-in-5 Angelenos.
Amongst the hardest hit are communities of color, and on Thursday, health care worker Chason Robinson was in line to get vaccinated at St. John’s in South Los Angeles.
“Any nausea, vomiting, diarrhea?” asked a health care worker at the check-in booth.
“No,” replied Robinson.
“Loss of taste or smell?” asked the health care worker.
Again, Robinson replied, “No.”
St. John’s has been testing 1000 patients a day with an average positive rate of 35%, but despite the high number of cases, many South L.A. residents do not trust the vaccine.
“I think it really has to do with just a lot of mistrust and you know the government and with just the past with vaccines and everything like that,” said Robinson. “Tuskeegee for example, it’s very hard for them to trust a government that they don’t know really has their back at the end of the day.”
A behavioral consultant at Special Needs Network, Chason has seen firsthand how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities, often getting infected at twice the rate of white residents. Densely populated and often working essential jobs, many lack access to health care and can’t afford to stay safe-at-home.
And with positive cases on the rise, ICUs throughout L.A. County have reached capacity. However, due to misinformation spreading online, Chason is concerned the families of his young patients will forsake the vaccine.
“I feel we also need to be able to stand as leaders and set an example to be that voice and show as an example we can trust them, we can trust the vaccine and our medical professionals,” said Robinson.
While there are those that intend to jump the line, there are significant numbers that do not trust the vaccine due to misinformation spreading online. According to recent polls, only 14% of Black Americans and 34% of Latinx Americans say they trust the new COVID-19 vaccine.
To address concerns and to encourage residents of South L.A. to take the vaccine once it becomes available, St. John’s has teamed with local politicians to host #VACCINATESOUTHLA in order to speak directly to the community and build trust.
“This is a city of angels and we will rise again,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Dr. Anitha Mullangi is the Chief Medical Officer at St. John’s and with the slow roll-out, she’s concerned they can’t vaccinate health care workers and eventually residents quickly enough.
“We actually vaccinated all our employees,” said Dr. Mullangi. “They have been the frontend treating and testing these COVID patients in the past one year and they really need these vaccinations.”
Now that he’s getting the vaccine, Chason is unconcerned about any side effects.
“It’s just another vaccine, another day,” said Robinson.
COVID-19 vaccine points-of-dispensing for health care workers are currently established in Lincoln Park, San Fernando Park, and South L.A. with more planned in vulnerable areas like El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Van Nuys, and Pacoima.
“It didn’t hurt at all,” said Robinson. “I didn’t even notice it happened, you know. It was over before I even knew it.”
Trust science and wear a mask.