After one of the most challenging years of our lives, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel—the COVID-19 vaccines are here, and my administration is working to ensure that no community is left behind.
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They are our best hope to end the pandemic. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is free, even if you’re undocumented or don’t have health insurance.
After the federal government authorized the use of the vaccines back in December, our own Western States Scientific Safety Review Group confirmed that the vaccines are safe. The Panel includes nationally acclaimed scientists, many from California, with expertise in public health.
Although supplies of the vaccine are limited right now, we’re working in close partnership with the federal government to get more vaccines into the state. And we’re working hard to build a system for swiftly and safely vaccinating Californians with equity at the forefront.
While the supply of vaccines is constrained, we’re prioritizing vaccines for the Californians most at risk–including healthcare workers, individuals 65 and older, and workers in education and childcare, emergency services and food and agriculture. That means grocery store workers, restaurant workers, farmworkers, those who work in food processing facilities and many others may now be prioritized. And we’re working to ensure that the communities most impacted by COVID-19–so often the communities of color and essential workers who have been sustaining us through this crisis–can access the vaccine.
We’re investing in community-based organizations and partnering with trusted messengers who have been providing critical services and information to California’s diverse communities during the pandemic so that they can help educate, motivate and activate people to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. We’re also building messaging through a public education campaign, creating in-language content with cultural humility and meeting Californians where they are—literally, through the mobile vaccination sites that have deployed throughout the state to community centers, places of worship and health clinics.
Vaccination sites are being set up throughout the state, and we’re working closely with community partners to make sure that vaccines are distributed to those who have been hit the hardest by this virus.
You may see people in uniform or police protecting vaccine sites. They are here to help Californians get vaccinated and are not immigration officials.
The federal government, under President Biden, has confirmed that they will not conduct immigration enforcement operations at or near vaccine sites or clinics. You should not be asked about your immigration status when you get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Also, your medical information is private and cannot be shared with immigration officials. And, vaccinations do not count under the public charge rule.
All Californians can sign up on myturn.ca.gov to be notified when they are eligible for a vaccine. Eligible individuals in several counties, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, and San Francisco, can also use My Turn to schedule an appointment, with more counties expected to begin using My Turn for scheduling in the coming weeks. My Turn is also accessible via a toll-free hotline at 1-833-422-4255. Operators speak English and Spanish, and third-party interpretation is also available in 250+ languages. You can also ask your physician or your pharmacy about scheduling an appointment.
After you’ve been vaccinated, it’s still important to wear a mask, wash your hands often and continue to stay six feet apart to protect others in your community who have not yet been vaccinated.
I encourage every Californian to get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn. Together, we can end the pandemic.
Gavin Newsom is the Governor of California, formerly Lieutenant Governor of California, and Mayor of San Francisco. Governor Newsom is married to Jennifer Siebel Newsom. They have four children: Montana, Hunter, Brooklynn, and Dutch. Newsom has been a pioneer on same-sex marriage, gun safety, marijuana, the death penalty, universal health care, access to preschool, technology, criminal justice reform, and the minimum wage, which has led to sweeping changes when his policies were ultimately accepted, embraced, and replicated across the state and nation.
This article was first published by Ethnic Media Services.