By Dena Vang
Latricia Anderson was one of several parents waiting in the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church lobby in Baton Rouge to get her 9-year-old son, Michael, vaccinated during the W Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine Event.
“All of the adults in our family and all of the teenagers have been vaccinated. We want to get all of the younger children vaccinated because we do have family members that suffer from asthma, there are immunodeficiency ailments, and we don’t want to cause any type of danger to them,” Anderson said. “Our 9-year-old, Michael, has allergies as well, so we don’t want to exacerbate any of that.
Also, we don’t want Michael to get sick and bring it to anyone on the school campus, and we don’t want anyone to give [COVID-19] to him.”
Vaccines for kids ages 5 through 11 are now available through a range of health care providers, including pediatricians, family doctors, children’s hospitals, pharmacies, and community health centers.
Alicia Wilkinson is another parent who brought her daughters, 11-year-old Amyria and 10-year-old Mariah, to get vaccinated.
“I didn’t want them to experience what I did when I had COVID,” she said. “COVID is a real learning experience just from working in health care and just seeing the impact to the staff and to the patients. It really took a toll on everyone.”
The vaccine is given in a smaller dose tailored for children ages 5 to 11. The COVID vaccines continue to work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
“What we try to do is educate [parents] on all the things that come along with a vaccine. The more they understand, the more they can make an informed decision,” Dr. Byron Jasper said. “When it comes to this vaccine, it’s a lot safer than people think it is. A lot of people worry about side effects that are very minimal, and a lot of those side effects are in a very small population.”
Jasper is the founder and chief executive officer of Byja Clinic, Louisiana’s first Black-owned direct primary care practice, and a W Cobb NMA Institute physician.
The W Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine Event brought together several local organizations and community members in support of vaccinations in the Black community. Medical professionals led panel discussions and administered COVID vaccinations and health screenings. They also offered free health resources to anyone who walked through the doors. Haircuts, face painting, and manicures were available on site for children who received a vaccine.
“I think this is so important for our community—getting people out, getting quality access to healthcare, and doing so in a family-friendly environment,” said Dr. Rahn Kennedy Bailey, chair of the W Cobb NMA Institute Board of Directors. “I think it goes a long way toward strengthening the bonds of our community and enhancing the likelihood and longevity of quality health for all. This program has been very instrumental in getting people vaccinated.”
At the event, 185 vaccinations for adults and 135 vaccinations for children were administered.
To find a vaccine site, search vaccines.gov, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
For resources and toolkits to help you build vaccine confidence in your community, visit the We Can Do This website.