Medical experts, community leaders and Californians who have already been vaccinated held a virtual press conference on March 9 to shed light on California’s vaccination campaign.
“One of the questions that I get asked the most is which is the best of the three vaccines. My answer is always the same: ‘the best vaccine is the first vaccine you can put on your arm,’” said Dr. Ilan Shapiro, AltaMed Medical Director of Health and Wellness Education, during the press conference. Shapiro assured that the three immunizations are highly effective and safe. “Within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccine, I already had my boss making me work,” he added, laughing.
Shapiro explained that, like any other immunization, the vaccine can cause minor redness and temporary arm pain, which is a normal reaction of the body.
“They are minor side effects, because the body is learning to protect itself from disease. It makes sense to be afraid, what doesn’t make sense is staying with doubts,” Shapiro said.
“I wasn’t sure about getting the vaccine,” confessed Lizbeth Benavides, 27, a special education teacher and counselor for the Santa Clarita School District. “It has always bothered me to get vaccinations and I was also worried because I have a 4-month-old baby, but my mother convinced me to do it.” Benavides decided to receive the vaccine so that she could return to the classroom.
“The truth is that the vaccine only bothered me for five minutes. I’ve been working at the school since February,” she said.
Regarding the availability of vaccines, Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director and Officer of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) explained that by increasing the number of vaccines available, the requirements will also be expanded so that more people can receive them.
“Eligibility is going to change very soon, once more seniors, agricultural workers, educators, essential and health workers receive their vaccinations,” said Dr. Aragón.
Doctors and experts also agreed on the importance of maintaining safety protocols, using masks and social distancing, until the entire population has been immunized.
When can I get the vaccine?
“In the state of California, 10.3 million vaccines have already been administered, which translates to almost one in three Californians,” noted Yurina Melara Valiulis, Public Information Officer for the Vaccinate California Campaign. 54 percent of the immunizations were for people 65 and older.
Melara explained that those interested in receiving their vaccines can register on the site myturn.ca.gov, both to determine their eligibility to obtain the vaccine, and to receive an appointment to do so.
“If you are in one of the already approved categories, they will give you an appointment right there,” Melara pointed out. You can also call 1-833-422-4255 to speak to one of the operators, in Spanish.
The state of California has expanded its reach to 170 organizations that work directly with disproportionately affected communities, to share information and answer questions from the population.
● There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. All three options have undergone rigorous testing and are highly effective in preventing severe cases, hospitalization, and death from coronavirus.
● The three available vaccines were tested among members of different ethnic communities. For example, 45.3 percent of the clinical trial participants for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine identified as Hispanic/Latino; 19.4 percent as Black or African American; 9.5 percent as American Indians or Alaska Natives; 3.3 percent as Asian and 5.6 percent as multiracial.
● To determine your eligibility to receive your vaccine and to include your name on the vaccination list, visit myturn.ca.gov, or call 1-833-422-4255