Jacqueline Nelson, one of the state-appointed ambassadors on the state COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Taskforce, received her first dose of Moderna vaccine Friday at Rome Memorial Hospital.
Nelson, who is the president of the Rome branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, serves on the equity taskforce which is charged with helping to break down barriers to vaccination and ensure equitable distribution.
“We need to encourage people to get the vaccine when it’s their turn because it is safe and effective,” Nelson said. “This vaccine is backed by data and it is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
The history of inequity and racism in healthcare has led many people of color to be understandably skeptical of government public health efforts, officials said. “By my example, I want to reassure people that this vaccine is safe and will protect not only themselves, but the people that they care about,” Nelson said.
Because of socioeconomic factors, minorities are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 because they tend to have higher rates of heart
disease, diabetes and other pre-existing conditions, as a result of systemic barriers to healthcare, including transportation and healthcare literacy, officials said.
“In addition, many are working in blue collar jobs on the front line as cleaners, delivery people, or aides in nursing homes, where there is greater risk of exposure than those who have jobs that allow them to work remotely from home,” Nelson added.
“We’ll be working on breaking down access barriers like transportation and educating our communities so nothing stands in their way of being protected,” Nelson said. “There is no cost for the vaccine, but we have to get that message out to everyone.”
Nelson is also a program manager that supervises three houses for people with developmental disabilities.
She is hopeful that getting vaccinated will also demonstrate to her staff that the vaccine is safe to protect them, the individuals that they care for, and the families that they go home to every day after work.
Hospitals in New York State have started vaccinating healthcare workers and nursing home residents against COVID-19.
NOTE: The state has developed and launched a new tool for people to check their eligibility for vaccination as new phases are announced at: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.