Why the unvaccinated finally get their vaccine – .

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Why the unvaccinated finally get their vaccine – .


Guillermo Cozar waited months to get the shot because, he told himself, he already had COVID last fall and didn’t think he would get sick again.
When he showed up at a century-old place of worship in Pico-Union only to finally get shot, there was nothing more he could do.

There was no queue as few people showed up, even though the Delta variant of the coronavirus is causing an increase in infections and hospitalizations across much of the United States

“I feel calmer now that I have finally received the vaccine,” said the 45-year-old. “I have to protect myself and everyone. ”

Cozar was among more than two dozen people, mostly Latin American and immigrant, who showed up at a clinic designed to bring in vaccine laggards on Friday as cases in Los Angeles County soar to never-before-seen levels seen since the last days of the winter wave.

“With healthy vaccinated people falling ill and unvaccinated people in emergency rooms, now is not the time to ignore the COVID pandemic,” the event flyer reads.

Nearby, volunteers distributed food as part of a weekly distribution organized by the Pico Union Project. With the food drawing hundreds of people each week, organizers hoped it would also attract people who procrastinated before getting vaccinated.

Pedro Antonio Tobar Mendoza, 28, visiting from El Salvador, receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from RN Jonica Portillo at the Pico Union Project.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The results were modest. And some of those who showed up for the shot were people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico who felt blessed to receive life-saving vaccines that are so much harder to come by in their countries.

They didn’t have to wait either.

“We had heard that there were a lot of people here who didn’t want to get the vaccine and that there was availability, so we thought we would take advantage of that since we were traveling here,” said David Mendez, who was coming. from Guatemala with his wife and father. “It’s a shame that people have the opportunity to get vaccinated but haven’t. Ideally, we would all be vaccinated so that we can get out of it as quickly as possible. “

The county reported 3,058 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday. That means the county has confirmed 10,000 cases in the past four days.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with the number reaching 655 on Friday.

Between July 12 and July 18, approximately 57,000 first-dose injections were administered across the county. This is an increase of approximately 2,000 from the previous week.

“We continue to vaccinate Angelenos at low but constant rates and last week after months, or really after weeks of steadily declining weekly immunizations, we have seen an increase in the number of first dose recipients,” he said. LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said Thursday.

Although the number of vaccinations is slowly increasing, Latinos still lag behind, with 55% having received at least one dose, compared to 66% of whites. In the black community, this number is even lower, at 46%.

“These are the same communities that have been affected the most and still do not get vaccinated,” said Dr. Yelba Castellon-Lopez, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UCLA. “It’s a preventable disaster.

RN Julie Anne Buenaventura prepares doses of Pfizer vaccine at the Pico Union Project.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Before 9 a.m., clinic workers set up blue and white tents in the parking lot at the headquarters of Pico Union Project, a non-profit organization that partnered with Curative Health to host the clinic. They planned to administer tests and vaccines over four hours.

Many of those who arrived at the clinic were from outside Pico-Union, where 60% of residents received at least one dose.

Around 10 a.m., Marco Figueroa had made five deliveries for the job when he saw the sign he was waiting for: “Free COVID vaccine. »Free COVID vaccine.

His sister and brother got vaccinated in May, but the 42-year-old wanted to avoid taking a day off.

« Later laterHe would say to his siblings when they asked him when he would go. “Later, later. “

When he spotted the notice board attached to a pole, he decided to forgo his lunch hour to get the shot. His colleague parked his work truck in a 12th Street loading area and waited while Figueroa made his way to the blue tents where two registered nurses were giving vaccines.

As Figueroa waited the 10 minutes for workers to prepare the Pfizer vaccine, he gripped the sides of the black folding chair he was sitting in. Not because he was afraid, he said, but because he was afraid of falling behind on the deliveries he had left.

While waiting to be vaccinated, Ericka Millan looked at the needle with skepticism. She nervously tugged at her pink nails.

“Are you sure it’s Pfizer?” She asked the nurse, who assured her yes. His family said they suffered fewer side effects from this vaccine.

The 27-year-old had recently tested positive for an autoimmune disease and was concerned about her reaction. Because she rarely left the house, she delayed getting the vaccine, making her one of the last in her family to get the vaccine.

She eventually decided to come because she started teaching at a high school in mid-August and was worried about being exposed to more people. She also cited a growing number of people who have fallen ill at her husband’s work in recent weeks.

“We’re here worried about whether they have COVID,” Millan said. “So we were like, we might as well get the hang of it. “

A handful of people who showed up at the clinic, like Cozar, cited the fact that they contracted COVID in the last outbreak and felt immune.

Castellon-Lopez said this is something that has come out of the webinars she has hosted with community organizations. She also heard from Latinos who fear the vaccine is too new, who initially worried about the cost and spoke of the misinformation around the vaccine.

“I am able to really spend time and harness my role as a doctor and a trusted source of information to provide people with more information so that they feel informed and more confident to get the vaccine,” a- she declared.

Masha Norman, left, from Hollywood brought her grandmother, Sarah Schusterow, to take a coronavirus test at the Pico Union Project.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Masha Norman, 19, arrived at the clinic to have her grandmother tested for the coronavirus after an unvaccinated family member tested positive.

Norman and his grandmother were both vaccinated months ago, along with most of his family.

“Why this is spreading in LA County, why we have to wear masks indoors again, is mainly because of the unvaccinated people,” Norman said.

Auxiliadora Gutierrez waited for her twin sister, Socorro Santamaria, to join her at the vaccination clinic. She had delayed getting the vaccine for the past few months, she said, to see how others would react to it.

Gutierrez said she recently watched a man on Spanish TV talk about how he waited and finally decided to get the shot, but fell ill before he could get the shot.

“He said ‘get vaccinated, don’t keep thinking about it,’” Gutierrez said. “It motivated me. I didn’t want to keep thinking about it.

Santamaria filled a black cart with produce and a box of rice before getting vaccinated. The 55-year-old had heard mixed messages about the vaccines and decided to delay, but the increase in COVID cases in the county, along with advice from pastors at her church, persuaded her to come.

Gutierrez’s sons have been vaccinated but his daughter, who administers the vaccine to others, has not been vaccinated. Her daughter was shocked to learn that she was in the clinic.

“It was a lack of information. Now I know it’s okay to get the shot, ”Gutierrez said.

Santamaria said none of her children had been vaccinated, calling it “roulette”. Her 13-year-old granddaughter showed the family a video filled with misinformation about women becoming infertile after being vaccinated.

“Now I’m going to motivate my daughters,” Santamaria said.

    Dolores Velasquez, volunteer at the Pico Union Project, takes the Covid test.
Dolores Velasquez, a volunteer at the Pico Union Project, is tested for the coronavirus.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

By 1 p.m., Curative had administered around 80 tests and 30 vaccines. Jennifer Pajounia was one of the last people to get the vaccine. Because she had COVID in October, she wondered about the benefit of getting the vaccine.

Instead, she decided to wait, “to let things calm down a bit.”

“Obviously, things are not improving,” she said. “Clearly, this is something everyone has to do. “

The 27-year-old, who lives at home with her parents and brother, said her family started feeling sick two weeks ago.

“I thought to myself, I’m sick of being scared and wondering if it’s COVID or not,” she said. “I might as well get the vaccine to prevent this. ”

Times editors Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin contributed to this report.

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