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As of August 2021, 166 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That equals half the population of the entire country. 

In the state of Colorado, 3.15 million people, or 54.7% of people, have received their complete COVID-19 vaccination. 

This tells us that the country, and our state, are making good strides towards protecting people from the dangers and health risks posed by COVID-19. 

But equally, more needs to be done. The latest research tells us that Black and Hispanic people are less likely than White people to have received a vaccine, leaving them at a higher risk as variants continue to spread. 

This could be due to a lot of untrue information doing the rounds on social media, putting doubt in people’s minds about the vaccine’s safety. 

The goal of this article is to provide you with clear, accurate, and essential information about the COVID-19 vaccine and how African Youth Advocate can help you and your family protect yourselves against the virus.

Why do I need to take the COVID-19 vaccine? 

People are understandably concerned about receiving the required doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention tells us: 

“Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta Variant, this is more urgent than ever.”

Getting vaccinated is our single biggest chance to protect our families from COVID-19 and return to life as we know and love it without social restrictions.

Also, nearly all recorded deaths from COVID-19 now are in people who weren’t vaccinated. There’s clear evidence that deaths could now be practically zero if every eligible person accepts the vaccine. 

How does the COVID-19 vaccine actually work? 

In America, three vaccines have been authorized and recommended by the CDC

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (2 shots in the upper arm, given 21 days apart).
  • Moderna (2 shots in the upper arm, given 28 days apart).
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (1 shot in the upper arm).

All of the vaccines underwent clinical trials before being authorized and are proven to be effective at protecting humans from the effects of COVID-19. Although some people may experience some mild side effects in the hours or days after receiving the vaccine, these are not long-term and will reduce quickly. 

The CDC explains how the vaccine actually works: 

With all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to produce [them].”

Simply, the vaccine trains your body to recognize and fight COVID-19, which will significantly reduce or remove the risk of you suffering from symptoms of the virus if you become infected.

Are vaccines available for young people and teens? 

One of the biggest myths about COVID-19 has long been that young people don’t need to worry as much about getting a vaccine. This is not true. 

Vaccines allow you to continue with your life as normal and give you the chance to enjoy many of the things you did before the pandemic. They also, importantly, protect you against any long-term symptoms associated with the virus. 

The CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you use a smartphone, you can download a CDC-approved app called V-Safe, which uses text messages and web surveys to help monitor your health after you’ve been vaccinated, if you’re worried about side effects.  

Also, the state of Colorado is currently offering all Coloradans (12 years or older) a $100 Walmart gift card as an incentive to schedule their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a participating location. Find out more information about this scheme here.

What proof is there that vaccines actually succeed? 

One of the worries people often have about the COVID-19 vaccine is that it’s early days, and nobody knows what the future will hold for those who take it. 

But throughout human history, vaccines have protected African communities from some of the deadliest diseases and pandemics ever identified. For example, in August 2020, the continent of Africa was declared ‘Wild Polio Free‘ after decades of vaccination drives ensured more than 220 million African children were protected against the deadly disease.

Also, huge efforts are underway by the UN to vaccinate one billion people across Africa from Yellow Fever, a deadly infection carried by mosquitos, with millions of young Africans already protected from the disease. 

Generally speaking, and according to the World Health Organization, more than four million deaths are prevented every year thanks to immunization drives from vaccines, 800,000 of these in African communities alone.

There’s absolutely no reason to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine will be any less effective in African communities than any other vaccine drive that has saved millions of lives in the past. 

How can I get my COVID-19 vaccine?

The good news is that COVID-19 vaccines in Colorado and throughout the United States are free to all citizens, regardless of immigration status or health insurance coverage. 

All you need to do is find out about the availability of vaccines in your area, which you can do in the following ways: 

  • Online: Go to Vaccines.gov and search for vaccination providers close to your home. 
  • Via Text: If you’re not able to go online, you can text your ZIP code to 438829, and you will receive a list of vaccine centers near you. 
  • Via Call: From your cell or home phone, call 1-800-232-0233 for up-to-date information about vaccines in your community.
  • In-person: Visit your local pharmacy and ask about the availability of vaccination appointments. 

It’s your responsibility to find out about the availability of the vaccine in your community, and you may have to be patient while you wait for your appointment. Also, you must remember to go for your follow-up appointment if you’re taking the Pfizer or Moderna jabs, as two doses are needed for the vaccine to be successful.

How black Americans can learn to trust the COVID-19 vaccine.

In spite of all the positives surrounding the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to The Hill, blacks are still 60% less likely than other racial groups to say they will definitely or probably take the COVID-19 vaccine.

This mistrust of the vaccine stems from previous government failings regarding the care of black people, with the ‘Henrietta Lacks’ scandal – where a black woman had her cells stolen from her without her knowledge and dying as a result – being one of the most high-profile examples.

While medical atrocities have undoubtedly affected black people in the past, the establishment of the Office for Human Research Protection has done a lot to protect black Americans, as they oversee medical practices and ensure due processes are followed, resulting in ethical and legal medical procedures.

Specifically, a range of scientists were brought together to ensure that the vaccine was effective across racial groups, including within black Americans. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a black woman, is one of the lead scientists responsible for developing the Moderna vaccine.

Around 5,000 blacks were included in the clinical studies conducted before the COVID-19 vaccine was approved, which was a sufficient percentage to ensure the vaccine is successful within the black population.

Tellingly, the COVID-19 vaccines are already reporting over 90% effectiveness rates in preventing the contraction of the virus. This is in line with major vaccination drives in the past, as vaccines have decreased death rates over 90% for smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.

The bottom line? Black Americans can trust the overwhelming scientific evidence relating to the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. Black people have been instrumental in developing the vaccine, and there’s no reason why the vaccine won’t continue to be as effective as other successful drives in the past, which have saved the lives of countless black people over the course of the past century.

Can African Youth Advocate help me with my COVID-19 vaccination? 

Once you’ve scheduled your vaccine, you will need to make your way to the designated center to receive your doses. Sometimes this can be a considerable distance from your home, which could cause you issues when arranging transport. 

That’s why African Youth Advocate offers a free transportation service for young African adults and teens who have scheduled their vaccines in Colorado. 

Your health is the most important thing, and we don’t want transport to be a barrier to you getting your COVID-19 vaccine. To ask us about our transportation service to COVID-19 vaccination centers, get in touch in one of the following ways: 

  • Email: info@africanyouthadvocate.org 
  • Phone: (+1) 720-226-3226 
  • Social media: @Africanyouthadvocate 
  • In-person: 1300 S. Willow Street, Denver, Colorado, 80247

Our team is also available to answer any questions you or your family members might have about COVID-19 and the vaccine. In addition, we would be delighted to speak to you and guide you through any reservations you might have about taking the vaccine, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Where can I go for further accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Staying informed with up-to-date information about the spread of COVID-19 and the vaccination program is essential. Unfortunately, there are so many myths and untruths being posted every day about the vaccine, which seriously impacts people’s decision-making. 

We encourage you to stick to verified and trusted sources when researching about the COVID-19 vaccine and recommend the following sources: 

If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccines that we haven’t covered in this article, we would be delighted to hear from you and assist you in any way that you can. Get in touch with African Youth Impact via our website, or give us a call on (+1) 720-226-3226 to speak to one of our friendly team members. 

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