I am a Black social worker who lives on the Key Peninsula. My primary occupation is as a psychiatric social worker at Western State Hospital in the Center for Forensics.
I was given the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in December. I had mixed feelings about this opportunity, or what some call “vaccine hesitancy.” I remembered reading the history of my ancestors who were unethically experimented upon in this country, including being injected with toxins that later compromised their health. I thought about how minorities are suffering from disproportionality, inequalities and disparities, and are dying of COVID-19 at rates up to three times higher than whites.
You might think one could wish they were in my position with this opportunity. I thought about the perspectives of various people around me on whether they were going to get the vaccine or not. Some made valid points and others gave uninformed responses. Regardless, they were entitled to feel the way they felt.
Applying my skills and reading the literature from a scientific perspective, I believe that receiving this vaccine will not just benefit me, but will allow me to continue diligently serving populations that need mental health services during this challenging era.
As one presidency ends and another begins, it doesn’t matter if you are Republican, Democrat or Independent. We all breathe the same air in this beautiful landscape. We have to help and communicate with our state legislators from the 26th District, our private sector and nonprofit entities, and do whatever we can to increase our vaccine mobilization opportunities here on the KP.
Rion Tisino, Longbranch
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