As the spread of the Delta variant continues to increase, so does the threat to our future and overall health of the City of Los Angeles. Sixteen months into the pandemic, with vaccines widely available, only 59% of Leimert Park residents ages 16+ have been vaccinated. In an effort to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations amongst South Los Angeles residents, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in collaboration with City and County leaders held a community vaccination event on Saturday, July 24th at Community Build, in the heart of Leimert Park Village.
“Plain and simple - vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic. If we want our economy to fully recover, if we want our children to be able to go to school without masks on, and if we want the most vulnerable members of our community to not end up in the hospital, we must all do our part,” said 10th District Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The event outlined new efforts to encourage the South Los Angeles community, particularly young Black men, to get vaccinated, including providing small businesses in Leimert Park a $200 incentive for displaying posters in their storefronts, giving attendees who get vaccinated a $25 American Express gift card, and giving barbers a $25 American Express gift card for referring individuals to the vaccination site. Moreover, over 30 community health workers went door-to-door in the days prior to the event, teaching residents about the safety of the vaccine, and encouraging all unvaccinated to take advantage of the opportunity.
“We know that communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. I commend St. John’s Well Child and Family Center for doubling down on this work and doing all it takes to educate, engage and empower residents. This is the hard work that is necessary if we truly want to make a difference and get everyone to vaxxed up," said 10th District Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is a federally qualified health center that has been caring for the South Los Angeles community for 15 years. We truly believe in health care equity. For the last year and a half, we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that black and brown communities have access to COVID testing to curb the spread and now COVID vaccines to stop the spread. We’ve administered over 280,000 COVID vaccines and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” said Director of Government Affairs & Community Outreach for St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, Mario Chavez.
The event drew widespread support, including from:
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
“I thank St. John’s Well Child and Family Center for bringing together all of the amazing partners across the City and County. They have done such amazing work to not only get vaccines out in the county but to get them to where people aren’t being vaccinated. This new variant is serious. Life is not 100% back. Yes, we get to do things that we didn’t get to do a year ago. But the battle is not over. You are either going to get the vaccine or you are going to get COVID and only one of those two things can kill you.”
Second District Supervisor, Holly Mitchell:
“I am afraid for us, there are 4 million people that live in LA County who have not yet been vaccinated. I am afraid because I am not sure what else to do. St. John’s has stepped up in a phenomenal way. Our community based organizations, along with city and county based organizations have made me proud. These people have stepped up for us. And we will continue to keep showing up and I am happy to be a part of this important conversation.”
President of Community Build, Robert Sausedo:
“We are striving and moving toward herd immunity by hosting these pop up vaccine centers. It’s very important that young people understand the importance of this initiative. As the president and CEO of Community Build it’s important to me to spread this message. It’s not just people getting sick, it’s also the economic impact. We have to do what is right. And what’s right is getting vaccinated. If you have not been vaccinated, you are doing your friends and family a disservice, because you are getting vaccinated not only for yourself but for the people around you.”