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CDC shares update on COVID-19 pandemic with the Black community

COVID restrictions are expected to ease soon in LA County. (304296)
COVID restrictions are expected to ease soon in LA County. Credit: Erik Reardon / Unsplash

There’s a surge of new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, particularly with the rise of the Delta variant, according to medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Black Americans continue to be under-vaccinated,” began Dr. Lauri Hicks, Chief Medical Officer for the CDC’s vaccine task force. Hicks recently joined a panel of experts at an  Ethnic Media Services national news briefing.

Researchers said low vaccination rates in a particular community like South Los Angeles can be directly linked to higher rates of COVID-19 cases. Additionally, researchers said virtually all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are not vaccinated.

“It is quite clear that this pandemic is not over,” said Dr. José T. Montero, the Director of the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support at the CDC.

However, vaccine reluctance is real in the Black community. Many concerns surround the fact that vaccines have been approved under emergency use authorization. That is something that the CDC acknowledges and is working on fixing with scientific research.

“Historical wrongdoings are not corrected overnight,” Montero said when discussing vaccination rates and disparities. “But we are certainly working (on it).”

According to the CDC, it has been scientifically proven that people who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in California such as Delta. The CDC is the nation’s top public health agency. The federal agency is under the Department of Health & Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta.

“Now is the time to get vaccinated,” Hicks shared. “Appealing to parents is really important so they can protect their children.”

Experts said unvaccinated people are putting themselves at risk, especially compared to vaccinated people.

“We’re seeing increases in cases where people are unvaccinated,” said Hicks, who also explained that people who have taken the first of two vaccine doses, will not have to start over, even if they have gone more than three weeks after receiving their first shot. “It’s not too late to get your second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, Hicks believes the CDC’s messaging for vaccinated people is one of reassurance. Vaccines are approved for people 12 years of age and older.

“I think that masks are extremely important,” Hicks added while promoting preventative measures like social distancing. “When I go to the grocery store, I still wear my mask.”

Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time. However, booster shots could be needed by late 2021 but would most likely use the same one or two vaccines that are currently available.