As of this morning, the COVID-19 death toll is approximately 500,000 people in the United States, according to The New York Times. With these staggering numbers, it is imperative that we all weigh the risks and rewards of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the CDC, Black and Native American communities were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. When we combine this with the fact that Trump era federal legislation ruled that it was legal to discriminate against transgender people for ventilator use, COVID becomes even more lethal to Trans People of Color, and even more so, Black Trans People.
There have been several myths circulating the COVID-19 vaccine. A reason for this may be that it feels too good to be true - is the end to this pandemic truly coming? This end, while in sight, can also be quickly stolen from us if we don’t act with urgency in getting vaccinated .
It is important to recognize the obscene amount of violence that has been delivered to People of Color in the past through experimentation for immunization and other procedures in American history. That being said, however, these vaccines are no longer in the experimental trials, and it are highly effective.
The question we really need to be asking ourselves is, which is more dangerous? The vaccine or COVID-19? According to our Black Trans staff, the vaccine is much safer, and this is what our staff had to say:
pictured left to right: Jasmine Bright (She/Her/Hers), Director of Healthcare Services; Ayotunde Khyree Ikuku (They/Them/Theirs), Advocacy Program Co-director ; Cloud Johnson (They/Them/Theirs), Respite Data Assistant
Were you nervous about the COVID 19 vaccine?
Jasmine Bright (Jassie): “HELL YESS!!!! I wasn't going to get it at all.”
Cloud Johnson (Cloud): “I wasn’t particularly nervous about the vaccine, but more so anxious and excited.”
Ayotunde Khyree Ikuku (Ayo): “I wasn’t nervous but I was honoring a sense of caution and acceptance simultaneously which turned into relief.”
Why were you nervous about the COVID-19 vaccine?
Jassie: “Well it felt like a set up. It seemed rushed and felt like I could die from taking it or it was going to affect my body in a negative way.”
Cloud: “I was excited to get the vaccine because I was ready to be done with COVID-19, it was a thrill to know we’re nearing the end of the pandemic.”
Ayo: “Due to the consistent misinformation under the current administration and poor handling of the pandemic from day one.
As well as being fully aware of the historical malpractice involving black people as test subjects and “sub-human” and that part of that has been under the guise of preventative care in the past”
After getting the first vaccine, what were your side effects?
Jassie: “fatigue, chills, and body aches for like 3 days.”
Cloud: “After getting the vaccination I was very sore in the arm that I got the dose, had some fatigue, body aches and nausea, but that only lasted a couple days.”
Ayo: “I experienced no side effects, the only thing was a sore arm at the injection site for about 24 hrs but that’s also expected.
I am thankful I did not experience anything for my first dose but anticipate something for the second”
Has your fear of the vaccine changed? Why if yes?
Jassie: “Yes, I now feel semi protected.”
Cloud: “After getting vaccinated I don’t really have any fears or concerns about the vaccination. It just reminded me of getting a flu shot or a tetanus shot”
Ayo: “I just feel more protected and prepared to stay educated around the science of the situation and check in with others who also have been vaccinated to share notes over time”
If you could have gotten the vaccine sooner, would you?
Jassie: “NO, The only reason I got it was because my Mom had just gotten hers and I didn't want her to go through that alone.”
Cloud: “I absolutely would have!! Building up immunities to viruses and preventative care is cool.”
Ayo: “Assuming more at risk folks wouldn’t have been forgotten and actually prioritized properly in this scenario, yes!
The earlier any of us can get vaccinated is more protection for ourselves, our families, and overall society”
What does the vaccine mean for Black people and Black trans people?
Cloud: “The vaccine will be a great way to help prevent more life loss in the Black and Trans community and give people the opportunity to live their best lives again without fear of COVID-19”
Jassie: “It is creating access. Which we all know is what the Black community needs.”
Ayo: “Knowing that we already have potentially fatal interactions with any institution, especially in a medical setting, it’s important that we do what we can to protect ourselves proactively so we don’t have to be in the position of severity where we are under doctors who do not value our lives enough to do everything to save us when things don’t look the best
Being vaccinated and protected would minimize the frequency we would need to take that risk, while also protecting of the more imminent fatal risk of catching Covid”
What would you like to say to your community regarding the vaccine?
Cloud: “I understand that there are a lot of fears and skepticism around the vaccine but there's a lot of information available to support why it's beneficial to get yourself vaccinated. I would personally much rather get vaccinated and take preventative care from COVID-19 than catch it.”
Jassie: “If and when the opportunity comes around take advantage of it. It's not as scary as it seems. Protect yourself!!!”
Ayo: “Stay educated, pay attention to who doesn’t want our people to be protected and how that would benefit them, and do what you can until you feel able to trust that this vaccine outweighed the risk of Covid & long-term damage to your organs even if you catch it and survive.
With all the love, when you can get vaccinated, please do
We must live on.”