Things That Matter

A Latina Nurse Named Helen Cordova Was the First Person to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in California

Photo by Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images

On Monday, the first person in California was administered the COVID-19 vaccine and her name was Helen Cordova. Cordova is an intensive care nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. She is also a brave woman who deserves to be celebrated for her courage.

The doctors, nurses and elected officials (including California Governor Gavin Newson) applauded after Cordova received the vaccine.

“I’m very excited that we have the vaccine, because it provides hope for the future,” Cordova said afterward, according to The Los Angeles Times.

But after she got the vaccine, Cordova went back to work–business as usual. Four other healthcare workers received the vaccine after her, including a respiratory therapy technician named Raul Aguilar.

It is significant that the first Californian to receive the vaccine was Latina, as Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

Latinos make up 39% of California’s population and 40% of frontline workers in California. 58% of the California COVID-19 cases and 48% of COVID-19 related deaths have been from Latinos. The L.A. County Department of Public Health reports that California Latinos are more than twice as likely as white Californians to contract the virus.

To make matters worse, Latinos are more likely to be suspicious of the coronavirus vaccine. “In communities of color in particular, there is a real history of abuse by the medical system that creates a potentially higher level of skepticism,” said Dr. Robert Wachter chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco to the LA Times.

Hopefully, patients like Helen Cordova will inspire confidence in the Latino community that the vaccine is, indeed, both safe and effective.

Shortly after Cordova received the vaccine, Governor Newsome tweeted out: “History made.”

But earlier in the day at Kaiser Permanente, Governor Newsome was slightly more somber, as California (like every other state) is facing its most grim stretch of the pandemic so far. In the last week, the Golden State averaged 32,858 new COVID-19 cases a day.

“We are in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic,” he said. “So today is hopeful, and it’s reason to be optimistic, but let’s be mindful of where we really are.”

Three other California cities received shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, including San Diego, San Francisco and Eureka. According to reports, the vaccine will become available to the general public in the spring.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez Are Partnering With Global Citizen For ‘Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World’

Entertainment

Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez Are Partnering With Global Citizen For ‘Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World’

Photo via Getty Images

While the United States is as of publication, has vaccinated over 75 million people against COVID-19 since mid-December, the rest of the world is still catching up. Poorer countries, for example, are struggling to procure enough vaccines for essential workers–let alone their entire population.

Luckily, certain charitable business are making it their mission to get vaccines to the most needy. For example, anti-poverty organization Global Citizen has organized a charity concert with the aim of getting COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

Selena Gomez will be hosting the concert, called “VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World”. And none other than Jennifer Lopez will be headlining.

Selena Gomez took to Twitter to announce her involvement in the exciting project. “I’m honored to be hosting ‘VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World,’ ” she wrote.

“This is a historic moment to encourage people around the world to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, call on world leaders to share vaccine doses equitably and to bring people together for a night of music in a way that hasn’t felt possible in the past year. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Jennifer Lopez also took to Twitter to announce her involvement with VAX Live, saying that she is “calling for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution for all”. That’s a statement we can get behind!

Jennifer Lopez isn’t the only superstar performing. Other acts will include J Balvin, H.E.R., and the Foo Fighters.

Global Citizen has one goal: to raise $22 billion for global vaccinations via corporate and philanthropic donors. They’re hoping VAX Live will bring awareness to their efforts.

“There are 27 million healthcare workers globally who don’t have access to the vaccine,” said Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans to the Associated Press. “I’m 38 years old, and it’s not ethical for me to have access to the vaccine before these heroic first responders and community health workers. So we need governments to start urgently donating those doses.”

Tom Hart, the executive director for another anti-poverty organization, The ONE Campaign, also reiterated the importance of getting vaccine doses into the hands of developing countries.

“Low-income countries not only need this welcome fundraising effort; they need access to COVID-19 vaccine doses,” Tom Hart said.

“The United States has secured over 550 million excess doses that could be used to help end the global pandemic faster.”

You can catch VAX LIVE on ABC, CBS, and iHeartMedia stations on 8:00 p.m. ET on May 8th. It will also be airing on Fox starting at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT the same day. You’ll also be able to catch an extended version on Global Citizen’s YouTube channel on May 8th as well.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Things That Matter

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Photo via Getty Images

Currently, Brazil is one of the world’s epicenters of the coronavirus. In March 2021, Brazil saw 66,573 COVID-19-related deaths. That means 1 in every 3 COVID-related deaths worldwide are occuring in Brazil.

And it doesn’t appear that the numbers will be slowing down anytime soon. While the United States is making strides in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Brazil is lagging far behind. And things are about to get a lot more complicated.

On Tuesday, Brazil passed a bill that would allow corporations to buy up as many vaccines as they can get their hands on, and privately distribute them to their employees first.

Elected officials in Brazil are arguing that the country has become so desperate to vaccinate its citizens, that it doesn’t matter who gets the vaccines first at this point.

The country, once renowned for having one of the most robust and efficient public vaccine-distribution programs in the world, has failed to make strides towards getting their citizens vaccinated.

“We are at war,” said the leader of the chamber, Arthur Lira. “And in war, anything goes to save lives.” We don’t know about you, but usually when it comes to war, we’ve heard that soldiers prioritize the health and safety of young, the weak, and the elderly before their own? We digress…

Brazil’s plan to privatize the vaccine rollout has brought up moral and ethical questions.

From the beginning, the World Health Organization has asked countries to first prioritize essential health workers and then high-risk populations when distributing the vaccine.

Anything other than that would promote a pay-to-play schemes in which the rich could protect their lives before poor people could. And poor people are more likely to die from COVID-19 in the first place.

As Alison Buttenheim, behavioral scientist and expert on the equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine said, vaccine distribution should not “exacerbate disparities and inequities in health care,” but instead address them. Brazil’s vaccine rollout plan would fail to do any of the above.

If countries begin to allow the rich to prioritize their own interests during the vaccine rollout, the consequences could be disastrous.

In a time when the world is stoked by fear and uncertainty, the worst thing that can happen is for rich companies to exacerbate inequalities by effectively choosing who lives or dies.

As the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization said at the beginning of the global vaccine rollout: “any distribution of vaccines should advance human well-being and honor global equity, national equity, reciprocity, and legitimacy.”

Poor Brazilians should not be left to fend for themselves against COVID-19 simply because they are poor.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com