By Amy Bell
February is Black History Month—a time meant to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans and honor the significant impacts they have had on all facets of life throughout U.S. history. As we witness the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado, it is important to recognize that the development of this critical tool that will help mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been possible without healthcare and scientific leaders from the Black community—leaders whose efforts, contributions and mark on society will be celebrated for years to come. Here we highlight just a few of these remarkable individuals:
Across the U.S., vaccination rates and well-child visits are declining. According to data released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 2.5 million fewer orders for routine vaccines (excluding flu vaccine) provided through the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program from mid-March to mid-April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. And in Colorado, vaccinations have declined by an estimated 40% since the beginning of March.
By Stephanie Wasserman, MSPH
Executive Director, Immunize Colorado
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused over 2.6 million cases around the world and is growing each day, has shown us—in the most alarming way—the indisputable value of vaccines. And though we are at least a year away from having an effective COVID-19 vaccine, we do need to remember that we already have many available vaccines that are safe and highly effective against dozens of dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases that once ran rampant across the globe. Most of us have never seen the ravages of polio or measles, but these diseases can come roaring back if we do not stay vigilant about maintaining high vaccination rates.
The COVID-19 virus has quickly spread across the globe, causing half a million cases and nearly 40,000 deaths. In the U.S., we’ve seen over 160,000 reported cases as of March 30, and the actual number is likely much higher. Disease is spreading rapidly, and health systems are struggling to keep pace. Across the country, non-essential businesses are being required to shut their doors, schools are closing—some for the remainder of the school year—, and state governors are issuing Stay-At-Home orders requiring that people not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.
We are living in a new and uncertain reality. But to many, the fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is familiar. This is not the first time our society has experienced a pandemic like COVID-19; it is not the first time that people have been afraid to leave their homes, or that healthcare workers have struggled to keep pace with the number of cases.