“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Isabel Sanchez, Community Leader
April is National Minority Health Month, and this year, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) is focusing on the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on racial and ethnic minorities and American Indian communities. The severity of the situation underscores the need for vulnerable communities to get vaccinated. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDHE) has implemented a program called ‘Champions for Vaccine Equity’ to address vaccine hesitancy and vaccine deserts.
Many individuals report a sense of relief and more peace of mind after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine can promote a sense of hope and quell health fears. The Mental Health Center of Denver is offering a free app to help manage stress, anxiety, and fear from the pandemic. Learn more at https://appv2.mystrength.com/go/mentalhealthcenterofdenver/thrive .
Colorado statistics indicate that women of color are the most hesitant to get the vaccine. Vanessa Bernal, a spokesperson for the CDHE reports, “There are mainly three concerns: safety of the vaccine, the side effects and the perception that it hasn’t been tested enough.” Colorado has created a website to provide valuable information at covid10.colorado.gov/vaccine-faq. The COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help us get back to normal, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to bring this pandemic to an end.
Governor Polis would like every Coloradan to begin setting their vaccine appointment after April 15. The state has a hotline to help people who have trouble signing up for the vaccine: 877-268-2926 (CO-VAX-CO). The vaccine is slowing the spread of the virus worldwide. Colorado wants to benefit from the protection of immunity. Local non-profit organizations like Cultivando are addressing vaccine education and access. For more information contact www.cultivando.org.
This year’s theme for National Minority Health Month is #VaccineReady. The focus will be to empower communities to:
Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.
Share accurate vaccine information.
Practice COVID-19 safety measures even after receiving the vaccine.
Colorado continues the 'Step Up, Colorado campaign which encourages the use of masks, social distancing, and hand washing. As more vaccines become available, communities and families can take steps to protect themselves until they can get vaccinated. Be sure to:
Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others who don’t live with you.
Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19.
If you are preparing for your COVID-19 vaccine, these tips may help.
· Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your vaccine.
· Eat lots of fruits and vegetables prior to your vaccine.
· Plan to be well rested.
· Use or exercise your arm. Moving your arm will reduce soreness in the muscle.
· Avoid strenuous activity. Allow your immune system to focus on building your antibodies.
· Apply a clean, cool wet cloth to help alleviate arm pain and discomfort.
· Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol. It is best to avoid heavy drinking before and after the vaccine.
· Dress lightly in loose fitting clothing. Do not wear clothes that constrict your arm.
· Remember: side effects are a sign that your body is developing an immune response to the vaccine.
Experts are urging anyone who is nervous about the vaccine to remember that any side effects from the vaccine pale in comparison to a case of the coronavirus or becoming a “long hauler,” a person who has lasting, debilitating COVID-19 symptoms. Most importantly, being #VaccineReady will save lives and allow our world to slowly return to a new normal.
(Article was originally posted in My Prime Time News, a Colorado newspaper for seniors. Visit their website at https://www.myprimetimenews.com/ .)