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THE RELIGION CORNER: COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, Part 1

Let me begin this week’s column by sharing details in this article written by Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, chief diversity officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who specializes in diabetes, heart conditions and patterns of disease in diverse communities. Dr. Golden was my guest in February 2015 for Black History Month on “The Lyndia Grant Show,” when we talked about how Type 2 diabetes got started back during the days of slavery in America. Dr. Golden stated that a group of doctors discussed this very topic during grand rounds at Johns Hopkins about how African Americans didn’t get Type 2 diabetes back in the late 1800s, since the slaves worked all day and burned off the calories. Type 2 diabetes was a White man’s disease back then, she said.

Dr. Golden wrote a recent article aimed at helping those folks with “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy.” It was published in the online edition of Johns Hopkins Medicines newsletter, Updated Edition, on Sept. 21, 2021. Her article details facts directed at those undecided, especially those with specific illnesses, to help make the decision on whether to get vaccinated.

She prefaces her article with this statement: “Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines, more than one hundred & eighty million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated. Johns Hopkins Medicine views all authorized COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.” Here are the first five of 12 facts and insights shared by Dr. Golden:

  1. The COVID-19 vaccine was created quickly, but was carefully tested for safety.

The development of the COVID-19 vaccines did not cut corners on testing for safety and efficacy. The vaccines were made using processes that have been developed and tested over many years, and which are designed to make — and thoroughly test — vaccines quickly in case of an infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19. The vaccines themselves were extensively tested by independent scientists, and more than 180 million people in the U.S. have been safely vaccinated.

COVID vaccine side effects are temporary and do not mean you’re sick. The vaccines do not contain live coronavirus, and you cannot and will not get COVID-19 from getting vaccinated. After the shots, you might experience a sore arm, a mild fever or body aches, but this doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. These symptoms, if they happen at all, are temporary, usually lasting only a day or two.

  1. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from getting sick.

The COVID-19 vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the coronavirus if you are exposed to it — including coronavirus variants such as delta. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, getting the vaccine is a powerful step in taking charge of your health. When given as directed, the FDA-authorized vaccines can prevent severe COVID-19 illness and death.

  1. Diversity in COVID-19 vaccine testing helped assess safety and effectiveness.

COVID-19 affects everyone, so scientists made sure clinical trial participants for the vaccines were diverse. The clinical trials for the first two COVID-19 vaccines included Black (about 10% of participants) and Hispanic (about 20% of participants) people, older age groups (about 25%), and people with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart and respiratory conditions. The U.S. study participants for the one-shot COVID-19 vaccine were 15% Hispanic/Latinx; 13% Black/African American; 6% Asian and 1% Native American.

New and future clinical trials will also include pregnant women and children under 12.

  1. Do you have allergies? You can probably still get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC says people with allergies to certain foods, insects, latex and other common allergens can get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, be sure to discuss that with your doctor, who can evaluate you and assess your risk. However, if you are severely allergic to any of the coronavirus vaccines’ ingredients, you should not be vaccinated.

  1. People of color are especially vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

Generations of health inequities have caused Black and Hispanic/Latin Americans and other communities of color to be overrepresented in severe COVID-19 cases and deaths. People of color are vulnerable to COVID-19 risk factors, and are more likely to be working front-line, essential jobs that cannot be performed from home, increasing their chances of being infected. Getting vaccinated can provide protection for you and those you love.

More next week.

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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