Commentary: On the Need to Get More Californians Vaccinated

When the pandemic hit last spring, my family saw images of America’s deserted streets, overrun hospitals, and dead bodies stored in refrigerated trucks on the internet. From Vietnam, my mother begged me to go “home” because it was “safe” there. She feared for my life, but now, more than a year after her begging, I fear for hers.

While California has fully reopened and over 51 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, the battle to end this pandemic is far from over. As the state works to provide vaccines to all of its people by any means available, I cannot help but think of my family in Vietnam who are desperately waiting for their turn to receive these life-saving vaccines.

As I have discovered many times since I came to America, this is truly the land of opportunity, and access to the COVID-19 vaccines has made that clear now more than ever. As we work to reach those who have yet to be vaccinated, I picture those living outside of the United States, in countries where they do not have the same luxury to protect themselves at the speed and convenience that we do.

Beating the pandemic is within reach thanks to these vaccines, yet millions of Californians remain unvaccinated. Most of them are Black and brown people, working in low-paying jobs where they cannot afford to get sick. In the census headcount, we call these individuals the hard-to-count – before I started working for the U.S. Census Bureau, I was one of them.

When I first came to America, I rented apartments with other Vietnamese refugees. We had escaped from Vietnam, and tended to be weary of government officials. Had someone come to us, explaining in Vietnamese the benefit of being counted, we would have participated. Similarly to the Census, in this Vaccinate ALL 58 campaign we have learned that the last ones to be counted are the hardest to reach.

That is why it will take all of us to reach them now - people in our communities who may be hesitant to come in contact with the government, who may not have easy access to trustworthy information, and who simply may not have the privilege of time and travel to receive a vaccine. Our community and faith leaders, neighbors, family and friends are the best resources we have to motivate the Californians who have not yet taken the opportunity to receive this life-saving vaccine.

To outrun the new variants, which have forced many countries around the globe back into lockdowns, we need to get more Californians vaccinated. This is the only way out of this pandemic, and we are so lucky to have the chance to protect ourselves readily available.

Because of my mother’s failing memory, I have tried to visit Vietnam at least once a year. I could not go last year because of the pandemic. I am now fully vaccinated, but Vietnam is in lockdown, and appears to be far from reaching a place to put COVID-19 behind them. My biggest fear is that the next time I see my mother, she may not remember who I am.

Sonny Lê is the Bay Area Regional Program Manager of Vaccinate ALL 58, California’s COVID-19 vaccination initiative. He directed the Census Bureau’s 2000, 2010 and 2020 Census regional outreach effort. Sonny’s first home in America was in San Francisco Tenderloin District, sharing an apartment with 10 other Vietnamese refugees. He has been a community organizer, freelance journalist, and a medical interpreter for over 20 years. 

 

12 Comments

  1. Hmmm, a community organizer lands a lucrative gig with Vacinate ALL 58.

    I wonder how much that pays?

    Perhaps black people(authors term) are hesitant to trust the Great White Father because of a little history.

    Google Tuskegee Syphilis and you will get an idea of the level of mistrust.

    I certainly appreciate how the author suggests it’s a ‘Privilege’ of time and travel to get the vaccine.

    I’m also intrigued as to how many community organizers get hired on by the Census Bureau. The process of counting people is handled by partisan activists. What could go wrong?

  2. Do you suppose that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, the Democrat Party, and the entire media’s months of badmouthing the “Trump vaccine” for almost a year had anything to do with keeping the vaccine rate down?

  3. HB you wrote:

    “Do you suppose that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, the Democrat Party, and the entire media’s months of badmouthing the “Trump vaccine” for almost a year had anything to do with keeping the vaccine rate down?”

    WOW THAT IS A WHOPPER, YOU KNOW THAT THE SO-CALLED RED STATES ARE THE ONES WITH THE LEAST VACCINATIONS!!! AND THE SO-CALLED DEMOCRATS ARE THE ONES WITH THE HIGHEST VACCINATION RATES!!! HERE IS A UPDATED RESOURCE TO PROVE IT (https://www.mayoclinic.org/coronavirus-covid-19/vaccine-tracker)

    AND HERE IS ANOTHER ONE (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/states-ranked-by-percentage-of-population-vaccinated-march-15.html)

    THE STATES WITH THE WORST VACCINATION RATES ARE:

    RED STATES: 25. Florida: Number of people fully vaccinated: 10,320,953: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 48.05, 26. Illinois: Number of people fully vaccinated: 6,073,610: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 47.93, 27. South Dakota: Number of people fully vaccinated: 411,392 Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 46.5, 28. Ohio: Number of people fully vaccinated: 5,378,842: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 46.02, 29. Alaska: Number of people fully vaccinated: 329,981: percentage of population fully vaccinated: 45.11, 30. Kentucky: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,010,070: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 44.99,

    PURPLE STATE: 31. Arizona: Number of people fully vaccinated: 3,254,456: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 44.71

    RED STATES: 32. Utah: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,417,434: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 44.21, 33. Montana: Number of people fully vaccinated: 469,71: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.95,

    BLUE STATE: 34. Indiana: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,943,569: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.72, 35. Nevada: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,344,053: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.64

    RED STATE: 36. Kansas: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,259,549: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.23, 37. North Carolina: Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,533,215: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.22, 38. Texas: Number of people fully vaccinated: 12,503,152: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.12, 39. Missouri: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,484,985: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 40.49, 40. South Carolina: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,064,053: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 40.09, 41. North Dakota: Number of people fully vaccinated: 302,806: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 39.74, 42. Oklahoma: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,571,398: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 39.71, 43. West Virginia: Number of people fully vaccinated: 696,799: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 38.88, 44. Tennessee: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,637,211: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 38.62

    BLUE STATE: 45. Georgia: Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,037,519: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 38.03

    RED STATES: 46. Idaho: Number of people fully vaccinated: 661,753: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 37.03, 47. Louisiana: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,690,044: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 36.35, 48. Wyoming: Number of people fully vaccinated: 209,600: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 36.22, 49. Arkansas: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,074,872: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 35.62, 50. Mississippi: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,012,480: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 34.02, 51. Alabama: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,662,812: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 33.91

    OUT OF THE 50 BOTTOM HALF WORST STATES AND DC 3 BLUE STATES, ONE PURPLE STATE, AND 24 RED STATES:

    NOW LETS LOOK AT HE TOP 25:

    BLUE STATES: 1. Vermont: Number of people fully vaccinated: 418,829: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 67.12, 2. Massachusetts: Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,366,341: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 63.35, 3. Maine: Number of people fully vaccinated: 847,199: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 63.03, 4. Connecticut: number of people fully vaccinated: 2,231,811: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 62.6, 5. Rhode Island: Number of people fully vaccinated: 643,774: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 60.77, 6. Maryland: number of people fully vaccinated: 3,514,298: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 58.13, 7. New Hampshire: Number of people fully vaccinated: 786,808: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 57.87, 8. New Jersey: Number of people fully vaccinated: 5,096,321: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 57.38, 9. Washington: Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,333,260: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 56.91, 10. New Mexico: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,183,675: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 56.45, 11. New York: Number of people fully vaccinated: 10,954,046: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 56.31, 12. Oregon: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,334,660: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 55.35, 13. District of Columbia: Number of people fully vaccinated: 382,126: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 54.14, 14. Virginia: Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,594,024: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 53.82

    RED STATES: 15. Colorado: Number of people fully vaccinated: 3,096,731: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 53.77

    BLUE STATES: 16. Minnesota: Number of people fully vaccinated: 3,004,997: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 53.28, 17. Hawaii: Number of people fully vaccinated: 752,060: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 53.12, 18. California: Number of people fully vaccinated: 20,553,610: percentage of population fully vaccinated: 52.02, 19. Delaware: Number of people fully vaccinated: 506,457: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 52.01

    PURPLE STATES: 20. Pennsylvania: Number of people fully vaccinated: 6,601,178: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 51.56, 21. Wisconsin: Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,986,410: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 51.29

    RED STATES: 22. Iowa: Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,552,448: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 49.2, 23. Nebraska: Number of people fully vaccinated: 946,549: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 48.93

    PURPLE STATE: 24. Michigan: Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,837,915: Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 48.44

    OUT OF THE 50 TOP HALF STATES AND DC 3 RED STATES, 3 PURPLE STATE, AND 19 BLUE STATES

    DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A DEMOCRATIC CONSPIRACY TO PREVENT VACCINATIONS?

  4. HB,

    Actually they don’t have EQUAL access to health care. But you want to call it a “DEMOCRATIC” conspiracy, or that the DEMOCRATS are trying to prevent vaccinations. WHAT A JOKE. This report only reported the performance of vaccine delivery and not any political motivations or other factors. You are just making it all up.

    Did you even bother to read the DISCUSSION completely it read:

    “Discussion

    Together, these data show that, despite recent trends suggesting improving equity in COVID-19 vaccination patterns and a recent narrowing in the gap between vaccination rates for White and Hispanic people, disparities are persisting. Less than half of Black and Hispanic people have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose in nearly all states reporting data, including a number of states where less than a third have received a vaccine. These lower vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic people leave them at increased risk for coronavirus, particularly as the Delta variant spreads, potentially leading to widening disparities going forward and limiting the nation’s recovery.

    THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, STATES, AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES HAVE IMPLEMENTED A RANGE OF STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS THESE DISPARITIES BY MAKING THE VACCINES MORE ACCESSIBLE AND PROVIDING OUTREACH AND EDUCATION TO ADDRESS QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS ABOUT THE VACCINES. HOWEVER, THESE DATA HIGHLIGHT THE CONTINUED IMPORTANCE OF EFFORTS TO PRIORITIZE EQUITY AND ADDRESS GAPS IN VACCINATION BOTH GEOGRAPHICALLY AND ACROSS RACIAL/ETHNIC GROUPS.

    While the data provide useful insights, they also remain subject to gaps, limitations, and inconsistencies that limit the ability to get a complete picture of who is and who is not getting vaccinated. FOR EXAMPLE, DATA GAPS AND SEPARATE REPORTING OF DATA FOR VACCINATIONS ADMINISTERED THROUGH THE INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE LIMIT THE ABILITY TO ANALYZE VACCINATIONS AMONG AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE AND NATIVE HAWAIIAN AND OTHER PACIFIC ISLANDER PEOPLE. MOREOVER, SOME STATES HAVE HIGH SHARES OF VACCINATIONS THAT ARE MISSING RACE/ETHNICITY, LIMITING THE ABILITY TO INTERPRET THE DATA. FOR EXAMPLE, IN WASHINGTON D.C., 28% OF VACCINATIONS WERE AMONG PEOPLE CLASSIFIED AS “UNKNOWN.” THREE STATES WERE NOT REPORTING VACCINATION DATA BY RACE/ETHNICITY. COMPREHENSIVE STANDARDIZED DATA ACROSS STATES ARE VITAL TO MONITOR AND ENSURE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO AND TAKE UP OF THE VACCINE.

    All reported data on vaccinations by race/ethnicity are available through our COVID-19 State Data and Policy Actions tracker and downloadable through our State Health Facts Online tables. KFF will be continuing to update these data on a regular basis going forward as vaccination distribution continues.”

    I REALLY THINK YOU NEED TO READ MORE AND THINK ABOUT YOUR RESOURCES BEFORE JUST POSTING THEM AND NOT EVEN UNDERSTANDING WHAT WAS WRITTEN.

  5. It would appear that merely asking a couple of questions is not acceptable? Wow, can you image insane, off the meds reaction one would get if one actually made a comment.

  6. HB YOU WROTE:

    “It would appear that merely asking a couple of questions is not acceptable?”

    ASKING QUESTIONS IS ACCEPTABLE EXCEPT WHEN YOU ASK THEM, KNOW THE ANSWERS THAT DISPROVE ANY COMMENTS YOU ALREADY MADE. OR JUST THROW THEM OUT TO CONFUSE THE PUBLIC. I JUST THINK YOU ARE TRYING TO AVOID THE FACTS, YOUR COMMENTS WERE DEAD WRONG. You wrote:

    “Wow, can you image insane, off the meds reaction one would get if one actually made a comment.”

    I HAVE BEEN HAVING TO CORRECT YOU ON THIS SOCIAL MEDIA SERVICE FOR MONTHS. YOUR CONSTANT ATTEMPTS TO DECEIVE READERS HERE IS A REAL PROBLEM. I WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO, BECAUSE I AM EXERCISING MY FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TOO. PERHAPS AGAIN YOU SHOULD DO MORE CAREFUL HOMEWORK?

    AS FAR AS MEDS GOES, I COULD SAY SOMETHING, BUT I WILL KEEP IT TO MYSELF.

  7. Notice that Mr. Goldstein, in reaction to HB’s offer of a completely reasonable contributing factor (“that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, the Democrat Party, and the entire media’s months of badmouthing the “Trump vaccine” for almost a year”), dismisses it outright as if the existence of a different factor, one he favors (the red state/blue state disparity), renders all other factors null and void.

    Smooth sailing for MR. BLOWHARD, until HB supports his first suggestion by pointing out the existence of a significant and undeniable race disparity across all states, but most significant in the blue states where no one pays any attention to red state politicians.

    TIME TO REGROUP! Lose the first point, lose the second, what to do? Behold the unequal access to health care! Here MR. BLOWHARD shows his desperation, hoping readers here are dumb enough to ignore the fact that access to vaccines are freely available, with no health care requirement.

    Stand by folks, ‘cause this guy changes his facts on the fly as deftly as does Lord Fauci and the CDC. Don’t be surprised if next he educates us, in all caps, about the heartbreaking lack of copiers and fax machines in the hood.

  8. PHU TAN ELLI you w3rote:

    “Notice that Mr. Goldstein, in reaction to HB’s offer of a completely reasonable contributing factor (“that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, the Democrat Party, and the entire media’s months of badmouthing the “Trump vaccine” for almost a year”), dismisses it outright as if the existence of a different factor, one he favors (the red state/blue state disparity), renders all other factors null and void.”

    WHAT PROOF DO YOU HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE THIS? NO ONE HAS DONE THAT, PLEASE SHOW US AN UNADULTERATED SOURCE TO ESTABLISH THIS OR OTHERWISE YOU ARE JUST MAKING UP ANOTHER STORY You wrote:

    “Smooth sailing for MR. BLOWHARD, until HB supports his first suggestion by pointing out the existence of a significant and undeniable race disparity across all states, but most significant in the blue states where no one pays any attention to red state politicians.”

    ACTUALLY I POINTED OUT THE RESOURCE HB USED DID NOT BACK UP HIS ARGUMENT NOR DOE IT SUPPORT YOU EITHER. CONSTANTLY MAKING UP STORIES WITH NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEM IS THE SIGN OF A PERSON TRYING TO DISSEMINATE MISINFORMATION. You wrote:

    “TIME TO REGROUP! Lose the first point, lose the second, what to do? Behold the unequal access to health care! Here MR. BLOWHARD shows his desperation, hoping readers here are dumb enough to ignore the fact that access to vaccines are freely available, with no health care requirement.”

    BUT THE MEDICAL CARE SYSTEMS IS NOT EQUAL ACCESS, YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO PROVE THAT THE VACCINE HAS BEEN PROVIDED TO EVERYONE IN EVERY LOCATION EQUALLY AND IN FACT THE STUDY DID POINT OUT THAT PROBLEM. BUT AGAIN, THOSE LIKE YOURSELF REFUSE TO ACCEPT ANY EVIDENCE OR FACT THAT CONTRADICTS YOUR INTERESTS. You wrote:

    “Stand by folks, ‘cause this guy changes his facts on the fly as deftly as does Lord Fauci and the CDC. Don’t be surprised if next he educates us, in all caps, about the heartbreaking lack of copiers and fax machines in the hood.”

    IT IUS TRUE THAT COVID HAS BEEN A VERY DANGEROUS PROBLEM. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE SO MANY TIMES THE VIRUS CHANGES. SCIENTISTS TRIED TO WARN US, THEY TRIED TO GET US TO BEHAVE SO THAT IT WOULD NOT GET WORSE. THE FACTS ARE ALSO TRUE THAT SCIENCE IS A SLOW PROCESS AND CAN CHANGE SIMPLY BECAUSE THE ELEMENTS OF THE RESEARCH CHANGES. BUT FOR YOU IF A PERSON CANNOT BE PERFECT, THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED. BUT NOTHING IS EVER PERFECT AND YOU ARE JUST FRUSTRATED THAT COVID IS STILL KICKING OUR BUTT.

  9. BY THE WAY,

    ISN’T IT THE REPUBLICANS THAT ARE CHOOSING NOT TO BE VACCINATED? PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING STORY (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/one-four-house-members-have-opted-not-receive-covid-19-n1261156)

    AND THAT MANY OF THEM SAY TO THE PEOPLE, YOU ARE FREE TO CHOOSE WHETHER TO BE VACCINATED OR NOT. RIGHT?

    PLEASE LOOK AT FOX NEWS HERE (https://www.foxnews.com/media/rep-byron-donalds-cnn-chris-cuomo-vaccine)

    THIS COINGRESSMAN DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THE DELTA VARIANT INFECTS PEOPLE NOT VACCINATED. AND YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOLE LISTENING TO THESE PEOPLE THINKING IT JUST A PERSONAL CHOICE. REMEMBER MEASLES VACCINES ARE MANDATED AND THEY MAY HAVE TO MANDATE COVID.

    YOU CLAIM IT IS THE DEMOCRATS FAULT THAT REPUBLICANS DON’T GET VACCINATED, THAT IS A BAD COMEDY

  10. “THE FACTS ARE ALSO TRUE THAT SCIENCE IS A SLOW PROCESS AND CAN CHANGE SIMPLY BECAUSE THE ELEMENTS OF THE RESEARCH CHANGES. ” — Steven Goldstein

    Fauci’s “science” described the virus in February of 2020 as no threat to the US… his “science” subsequently poo-poohed the need for masks and social distancing, then did a 180 on both (about the same time he famously attended a baseball game), then followed the media in disputing (for political purposes) the efficacy of certain inhibitory treatments (now widely in use), then recommended double-masking, prevaricated in denying his role in the gain of function research that created this monstrous menace, lied during questioning during a Senate hearing… and the “science” goes on.

    It seems like Fauci, like Steven Goldstein, suffers from the delusion that what is right and self-fulfilling is whatever claim(s) they’re making at the moment.

  11. PHU TAN ELLIE,

    BY THE WAY,

    ISN’T IT THE REPUBLICANS THAT ARE CHOOSING NOT TO BE VACCINATED? PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING STORY FROM NBC NEW TITLED “One in four House members has opted not to receive Covid-19 vaccine so far “ AND THAT MANY OF THEM SAY TO THE PEOPLE, YOU ARE FREE TO CHOOSE WHETHER TO BE VACCINATED OR NOT. RIGHT? PLEASE LOOK AT FOX NEWS SUBTITLED “The GOP lawmaker explained he’s choosing not to get vaccinated since he already had the virus”THIS CONGRESSMAN DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THE DELTA VARIANT INFECTS PEOPLE NOT VACCINATED. AND YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE LISTENING TO THESE PEOPLE THINKING IT JUST A PERSONAL CHOICE. REMEMBER MEASLES VACCINES ARE MANDATED AND THEY MAY HAVE TO MANDATE COVID.

    YOU CLAIM IT IS THE DEMOCRATS FAULT THAT REPUBLICANS DON’T GET VACCINATED, THAT IS A BAD COMEDY

    AS FAR AS YOU WROTE HERE:

    “Fauci’s “science” described the virus in February of 2020 as no threat to the US… his “science” subsequently poo-poohed the need for masks and social distancing, then did a 180 on both (about the same time he famously attended a baseball game), then followed the media in disputing (for political purposes) the efficacy of certain inhibitory treatments (now widely in use), then recommended double-masking, prevaricated in denying his role in the gain of function research that created this monstrous menace, lied during questioning during a Senate hearing… and the “science” goes on.”

    I HATE TO AGREE WITH YOU BUT WHEN AIDS HIT, THE CDC WAS PUNISHED SEVERELY WHEN IT TRIED TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE FROM HIV. THEY LOST FUNDING AND ALSO WERE IN EFFECT TOLD TO NEVER ISSUE MANDATES FOR PUBLIC SAFETY. ON TOP OF THAT THEY WERE GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED BY THE GOP LEAD CONGRESSES. BUT TO THE POINT, I WOULD NEVER IF I WAS IN ANY OF THESE PEOPLES POSITIONS EVER TOLD THAT COVID WAS NOT A THREAT AND I WOULD NEVER HAVE SAID ANYTHING EXCEPT, STOP BEING FOOLISH AND START ACTING SAFE. AS I LIKE TO SAY IF YOU CANNOT PROVE LIVING IS SAFE, THAT YOU CANNOT SAY IT IS SAFE. I AGREE THAT THE POLITICS AND THE SLOW RESULTS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IS PAINFUL. BUT THAT IS WHAT WE HAD, AND IN FACT DONALD TRUMP FORCED MOST OF IT DOWN THE CDC’S THROAT. REMEMBER HIS PRESS CONFRERENCE? HE WOULD SAY EVERYTHING WAS SIMPLE, BUT THEN BRIX AND FAUCI WOULD HAVE TO CORRECT HIM RIGHT THERE!!!

    It seems like Fauci, like Steven Goldstein, suffers from the delusion that what is right and self-fulfilling is whatever claim(s) they’re making at the moment.

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