To be 100% clear, we believe that every person who can be vaccinated should get vaccinated. We stand with science and public health. We stand for health and the economy as one and the same. We stand with our whole community and say: “we care.”
We also understand that health disparity is deeply rooted in our country and in our state. This means that while we all might be floating in the same ocean we were never sitting in the same boat. At our last advisory board meeting, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders from around the state engaged in conversation on this topic. We reminded ourselves that while some are choosing to be unvaccinated, many others want the shot but have difficulty accessing it. Let me share one example of thousands – not to stereotype but to help us rediscover our compassion if it has, indeed, been lost.
A single parent, who is a minimum wage worker holding down two jobs finally has their kids back in school. The vaccine is available but almost entirely during the work and school day. Neither of their employers gives paid time off to get the vaccine, and there is no vaccine access at work or school. If they do manage to get a shot and end up with side effects like body aches or a headache, there is no paid time off and no one to care for their kids. If they or their kids need a day to recover, they might have to miss work at both jobs and lose their pay, which makes life harder in too many other ways. Now, remember that this person is your neighbor, your family member, your friend, a person in your community who is trying very hard to do the right thing to protect themselves and you.
This story should remind us that not all those who are unvaccinated are raising their voices in protest. Many are like this parent, who faces many barriers to getting the shot. These are the voices we need to hear if we are going to find our way out of this pandemic. This is not someone else’s work. It is YOUR work and MY work to get everyone the vaccine who wants it. Think you can’t make a difference? Here are three ways every nonprofit can play a role in promoting vaccine awareness and vaccine access in your community: