In the summer of 2021, Asian Pacific Community in Action (APCA), an Arizona public health organization that serves the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities, applied for and secured a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the expressed goal of conducting outreach on COVID-19 and vaccinations, among the constituent communities, in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. As such, this project fulfills a need that state and county health agencies have left unaddressed. In fact, from the perspective of the Arizona Department of Health Services, no such need exists since the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths among AANHPI community members are erased under the category of “Other.” To correct this erasure of circular argument – since no COVID-19 health data on our communities exists, then there are no problems that require actions from health agencies – APCA has launched a program to train and develop a core group of community health workers (CHW) who can communicate COVID-19 public health information in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways within our diverse communities. At the same time, while such outreach efforts are underway, these community health workers will utilize survey tools to assess the state of health among such communities. With this two-prong approach, APCA will begin to effect AANHPI needs into data existence to combat government neglect and to establish a network of trained community health workers who will be at the ready for the next public health issue that requires mass outreach.
JACL-AZ: Doing Our Part through Stories and More
As a partnering organization that supports this public health effort, JACL-AZ has received a sub-grant, from APCA, to find ways that would further the goal of keeping the JACL and Japanese American community safe from COVID-19. Here’s the plan. First, we can help by encouraging speakers who are fluent in English and Jap anese to train as (paid) community health workers. Secondly, JACL-AZ, with the help of APCA, will conduct COVID-19 mass outreach at Arizona Matsuri – Festival of Japan, 2022. Moreover, if all logistical details are met, vaccinations will be made available, as requested by the Steering Committee for Arizona Matsuri. Also, to highlight the global challenge of COVID-19, Phil Okuma, JACL-AZ Board and Arizona Matsuri Steering Committee Member, suggested expanding the scope of outreach to include expectations of public health practices for potential visitors to the country of Japan. And finally, as we confront the challenge of COVID-19 misinformation and the subversion of public health measures, such as masks and vaccines, as rhetorical tools for a newly-emerging form of identity politics, the question remains: How do we keep our community healthy, with facts, while avoiding the quagmire of manufactured confrontations? Although COVID-19 may reside in media’s multi-platform echo-chambers, it maintains its foothold in the framing of two false choices:
1) If we accept the realities of COVID-19, then we will be paralyzed from living our everyday lives.
2) Therefore, in order to live freely, we must deny the realities of COVID-19. These choices are false because most of us have carried on with our lives while making adjustments according to public health advice. Grocery store workers continue to stock shelves and ring up purchases while wearing a mask. Early on in the pandemic, JACL-AZ’s senior volunteers arranged for bento deliveries for fellow seniors. And in March 2021, the same volunteers organized a senior parking lot bingo and bento session. Teachers within our community continue to report to work in the physical classroom – 35 students, no social distancing, mask hostility, one opened doorway – becoming vaccinated eased the worry of falling ill. Likewise, as more people became vaccinated, the JACL Summer Bowling League was able to resume, responsibly, in 2021. These are stories of how we have endured while adjusting to the threat of a pandemic. Our lives didn’t stop. We are neither paralyzed with fear nor claiming freedom with reckless abandon. We proceed with knowledge of the latest public health advice and do our best to stay healthy within the considerations of our specific circumstances. Therefore, because we are a community that endures – from the early immigration headwinds of the 1800’s to wartime incarceration of 1942 to raising our voices in the civil rights struggle of subsequent decades to the declaration, “Anti-Asian Hate Is Not What I/America Stand/s For,” in 2021, JACL-AZ will dedicate one to three (or more, if needed) pages in each issue of this newsletter, The Round Up, to our COVID-19 community stories and re sources. It is an opportunity to offer dedication and remembrance. It is also an opportunity to highlight how we have learned to live our lives in a pandemic while making adjustments to meet public health necessities. It is a space to share, expound and to decompress. A space to come to terms with a period of undue stress. A welcoming, mental health space.
By sharing our stories of how we interpret public health advice in making our decisions about daily activities – how we assess risk, we will slowly chip away at the framing of misinformation. As such, the sub-grant will be used for the preparation, production and dissemination of The Round Up and its COVID-19 stories and fact sheets, between now and the end of the grant period in July 2022. At which time, we will have developed a collection of community stories on the pandemic years – another addition to the history of JACL Arizona Chapter, as it approaches its 90th Anniversary in 2024.
COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters: Are You Ready?
From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Recent data and studies from health agencies, domestic and abroad, have indicated that the immunity levels, conferred by vaccines, decrease with time. Thus, the CDC now recommends an additional dose of vaccine for individuals in certain categories. [NonCDC translation: just as we need to exercise our muscles to keep them strong, vaccines put our immune system through a workout to build strong COVID-19 “immunity muscles.” With time, the “immunity muscles” that we built with the initial vaccine doses begin to weaken because the vaccine is doing its job of fighting the COVID-19 virus and keeping us from being very sick. Therefore, a vaccine booster shot acts as an additional workout to maintain the strength our COVID-19 “immunity muscles.”
Who should get a vaccine booster?
For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:
- 65 years and older , [ includes caregivers of people in this age group ]
- Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
- Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions , includes heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, and neurological impairments, such as dementia.
- Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings , includes settings with close contact and exposure to many people.
For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.
How to get a vaccine booster or a first-time vaccination?
- Consult your primary doctor to see if the office or medical facility offers vaccinations. 2. Call or visit the website of your preferred pharmacy to inquire about vaccine availability. 3. To locate a vaccination site near you: visit https://www.vaccines.gov/ or call 1-800-232-0233 or text your ZIP code to 438829 .
Not yet vaccinated? Please consider doing so – an action to protect the health of your loved ones. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html#long-term-care