Orgs Urge Community To Vaccinate
by Dianne Anderson
Flu season isn’t technically here yet, but already COVID-19 Delta cases top the charts at nearly three times as bad as this time last year.
Facts are facts, and data from the latest surge of the highly contagious variant is hard to ignore, even as die-hard anti-vaxxers are filling up hospitals nationwide. In some states, hospitals are rationing ICU cases, and the National Guard is called in to help with overflow.
That worries Corey Jackson, who said the evidence is clear that the unvaccinated are the ones who are sick and dying. Through his outreach, he wants the community to understand the vaccine benefits before the numbers surge this winter.
“Less than one percent of the population might have an adverse, typically a minimal negative effect,” he said. “For African Americans as a whole, we’re more likely to die from what we eat every day, the fried foods, salt and sugar, than this vaccine.”
Jackson is one of several partners with Reach Out West End, a nonprofit effort partially funded by Riverside County Public Health Department to help keep community organizations mobilized with resources and vaccination data for the community.
Jackson, CEO of SBX Youth and Family Services, is a long-time community activist, and has partnered with county networks for months to increase vaccinations, and access to centers and sites. He continues targeted outreach, and is urging the community to get the shot.
“There’s a number of popup vaccinations in conjunction with school districts and churches, and we have to do the good old fashion building relationships and educating people,” said Jackson, who is also a member of Riverside County Board of Education.
At this point, he doesn’t think the public is paying attention to how bad the virus has become, or community infection spreading among children in the schools. He said that if the state were using the prior warning color scheme, the area would be purple.
“When we were shut down last time, this is worse because we’re dealing with a different virus than before. This Delta is kicking our butts, but there is a worse one on the way,” he said.
Like all viruses, COVID is doing what it can to survive. If people had gotten vaccinated early and wore a mask, he said the Delta variant may not be the problem that it is today.
“If you say you’re about the culture [and] about your people, the best thing you can do for your people right now is get the vaccination. You’re passing it on to the people you profess to love and fight for,” he said.
The data is harrowing. Last week, the Center for Disease Control released its findings that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have received the vaccine.
Pepi Jackson, no relation, sees the issue as a personal choice – get deathly ill, or get the vaccine.
“It’s just astounding. What logic are we using here? What’s the critical thinking process?” said Jackson, president of the Riverside County Black Chamber of Commerce. “Whatever conspiracy theory doesn’t face up to reality when you’re looking at the numbers. Right now, we’ve got to save our own lives.”
He said their recent chamber partnership with Reach Out hopes to increase vaccination rates, particularly in the Black community.
“We know that the Inland Empire has one the largest unvaccinated African American populations in Southern California,” he said.
As the chamber of commerce, he said they have always stood for community economic empowerment with gainful employment, but health comes first.
“We were always in the health arena, we wanted to make sure that ppl in our community had access to health, and to reduce some of these debilitating illnesses that have kept people from being able to work a 40 hour week,” he said.
Another mission is to ensure that small businesses have the skills and information they need to succeed, especially as all businesses have taken a huge hit during the pandemic, but minority businesses have taken the hardest hit.
Over 40% of minority businesses will have completed dissolved, or will not bounce back as they were pre-pandemic.
“The pandemic has been this perfect storm where our attention has been galvanized, [and] we do everything that we possibly can to make sure that our community gets as many vaccines as possible,” he said.
Reach Out is working with 12 organizations to promote vaccine outreach, and expanding their training of community health workers to assist underserved communities. Their other partners include TODEC, Legal Center Inc., Escuela De La Raza Unida Inc., Motivating Action Leadership Opportunity (MALO), Hemet Bread of Life Church, Building Resilient Communities, Building A Generation, Mom & Dad Project, Mountain Counseling & Training, Moses House Ministries, and Walden Family Services.
Diana Fox, Reach Out Executive Director, said that their organization’s work on vaccine equity issues includes many multi-sectoral partnerships that are strong, and have existed for over a decade.
Their network of established partners allows for direct outreach, education and engagement of over 100,000 community members in the Inland Empire.
“Our experienced cohort of partners have a deep well of experience in community engagement and outreach. These partnerships, and our current vaccine equity work, will allow us to mobilize quickly and efficiently,” she said.
For more information, see https://we-reachout.org/
For SBX programs, see https://www.sigmabetaxi.com
For Riv County Black Chamber of Commerce, see https://riversidecountybcc.org