Apr 6, 2021
WATCH: 'We have to keep fighting'
As a faith leader, Roxbury Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Liz Walker has always passionately believed everyone should have the opportunity to be safe and healthy – and these days, that means paying particular attention to the communities most at risk for COVID-19.
“Communities of color have long been traumatized by racism, and this year, they’ve been hit by another pandemic, COVID-19,” Walker told Coverage. “We’ve got to get the message out to our neighbors that getting vaccinated is essential.”
During the pandemic, Walker —a veteran TV journalist — has partnered with Bethel AME’s Rev. Gloria White-Hammond on a series of webinars aimed at building vaccine confidence, particularly among communities of color. The series, including one session featuring director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, has drawn thousands of viewers.
Nationwide, Walker notes, Black Americans — often frontline, essential workers unable to work from home — have suffered hospitalization due to COVID infection at twice the rate of white peers, and have died at three times the rate. Those tragic disparities stem from historic inequities.
“Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put people from many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19,” the Centers for Disease Control states. “Studies have shown minority groups are also dying from COVID-19 at younger ages.”
COVID-19 vaccines offer a really vital opportunity to support and protect those who have been and stand to be most harmed by COVID-19. We have to provide access to those vaccines. We can't give up, we can't let go. We have to keep fighting.
- Walker said
Everyone over 16 in the U.S. is eligible for vaccination beginning April 19, and anyone who lives, works or studies in Massachusetts can make appointments or preregister for free COVID-19 vaccination. Mobile popup vaccination sites also are launching in some of the most disproportionately affected parts of the state, beginning in Boston — check out the public health sites for Chelsea, Revere, Boston, Fall River and New Bedford to learn more and see locations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to vaccines made by Pfizer and BioNTech and Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna. The vaccines have proven safe and effective in clinical trials, and are covered by health plans, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, with no out-of-pocket cost.
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PHOTOS BY FAITH NINIVAGGI, VIDEO BY MICHAEL GRIMMETT