No Time to Wait: Vaccines Ramp Up
By Dianne Anderson
Fear of needles, among other things, didn’t stop Dr. Mildred Henry from being first in line at Community Hospital of San Bernardino to get her first COVID-19 shot recently.
Any hesitation she might have felt was offset by watching the rise of the daily death toll, lately about 2,400 a day in the U.S.
Her last jab was March 9, but this time, she was a pro.
“Just the thought of a needle hurts, but I decided I better go on and get it while the getting is good,” said Dr. Henry, retired CSUSB professor and education advocate “It wasn’t bad at all.”
Whatever reservations she had didn’t outweigh the devastation she sees in the Black community of those who have lost loved ones through the pandemic.
Side effects were a concern, but she had none. One of her friends is 101 years old, Thelma Earl of San Bernardino, had the shot and is doing fine.
“I heard a couple of instances on the news, but I didn’t know anyone who had side effects,” said Dr. Henry said. ”Several of us talked and we were all reluctant. Two people I knew took it and they had no effects.”
So far, over 80 million vaccines have been administered nationwide. While white people seem to be rushing in droves to get their shot, Blacks are saying not so fast. The Center for Disease Control reports that whites received most of the doses at 64%, compared to 8.8% Hispanic, and 6.6% Black.
Death by COVID-19 is going down a little lately, for some people more than others.
According to APM Research “The Color of Coronavirus,” compared to January, the first week of March saw “the highest number of new deaths since the start of the pandemic for all groups except Black and Pacific Islander Americans, for whom it was the second most deadly stretch.”
Dr. Victor Waters has been involved with local vaccinations, and said he was the first at his hospital to take the jab to be the example for the community that he sees remains reluctant.
It is costing lives.
“From my office window, almost every day in January I saw body bags of patients and several security having to put them into the morgue. I’ve been a trauma ER physician and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Waters, Chief Medical Officer at Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center.
Waters pursued his career in medicine, and his legacy is born out of family tragedy. His grandfather bled to death from a farm accident in the 1930s because there were no Black hospitals in the area in Chattanooga TN.
“Instead of taking him to the hospital, they put him in a barn because there were no African American hospitals for him to be cared for. Twelve hours later he died, and that left a mark on me that doesn’t go away,” he said.
Today, help is available as Blacks are dying at twice the rate of whites in the pandemic. He emphasizes that the community should not hesitate to get the vaccine.
Lately, he hears questions about which vaccine he thinks is the best choice. By whatever name, he said it is safe.
He tells people not to get caught up in the efficacy numbers because it’s apples to oranges in the time periods that the studies were done.
Something worse is coming and there is no luxury of time. The variant COVID virus is out there now.
“Don’t wait until you think you have your favorite vaccine. There’s no need to pick a favorite when you have a half a million people dead from the virus,” he said.
Waters, originally from New York City, was the first in his family to go to college. Among several career paths over the years, he is an attorney, having earned his degree from Rutgers. He has also served in internal and emergency medicine spanning three decades.
He sits on the advisory board of Blackdoctorsusa.com to improve access of the community to Black physicians. He is an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Recently, a report from the National Nurses Union shows that since last September, 58% of nurses that died from COVID-19 are registered nurses of color. Filipinos took the hardest hit, and Black nurses are also dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate.
17.8 percent of the registered nurses who have died of Covid-19 and related complications are Black. Black nurses make up 12.4 percent of RNs in the United States. Nearly one-third of RNs of color who have died to date have been Black (30.6 percent), according to their study, Sins of Omission.
Waters is also concerned that some Black nurses are still reluctant. He said one ICU nurse approached him, saying that one fear in the Black community is about a tracking microchip in the vaccine.
“I said it’s my community too, and I can tell you that is a myth, it’s absolutely false. As a result, she went on and got vaccinated. It’s particularly concerning that you have nurses that are hesitating,” he said.
Some of it is misinformation through social media, or too much information. Disturbing is the case of Dr. Susan Moore, who got COVID-19 and chronicled her experience at the hospital where she worked, was told to go home, where she soon died.
“Here’s a Black woman physician in her own hospital being treated poorly, and discharged and had to return and eventually died because of maltreatment. That adds to the firestorm of distrust,” he said.
Johns Hopkins University Medical Center reports that racial and ethnic information is only available for about 35% of the total deaths in the U.S., but the limited sample shows that Black Americans and other historically disadvantaged groups are experiencing infection and death rates that are disproportionately high for their share of the total population.
“For example, while Black Americans represent only about 13% of the population in the states reporting racial/ethnic information, they account for about 34% of total Covid-19 deaths in those states,” the university reports.
To find out where and when to get the vaccine, see:
For Dignity Health Vaccine Updates, see
To track COVID-19 information, variants, vaccines, and death toll, see