Four months after the first COVID vaccine shot was administered to a nurse in New York City and only 30% of Alameda County is fully vaccinated. Priority tiers and limited vaccine supply notwithstanding, a poll released on March 30 through Kaiser Health News reported that when asked if they were planning to become vaccinated, nearly 40% of adults replied they would "wait and see", "only if required" or "definitely not."
As supervisor of a district heavily impacted by COVID, I am deeply concerned that despite overwhelming evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy there remains a debate around the value of getting vaccinated.
This week Alameda County expanded vaccine eligibility to include persons 16 years or older, approximately 82% of our total population. It is my sincere hope that everyone in a position to get the vaccine does so. It is our responsibility as community members to take part in achieving community immunity.
The vaccine rollout was imperfect and left many feeling that the process was disorganized and inequitable. Socioeconomic barriers including language access, shifting goalposts from the state and deep-seated mistrust of the system stood between me and my constituents obtaining the vaccine.
However, we know much more than we did a year ago and with the logistical kinks getting worked out, the Oakland Coliseum set to remain operational and 6,000 doses of vaccine coming from the state daily, Alameda County is poised to return to a state of equilibrium soon.
I always harbored a strong desire to get vaccinated. Consistent encouragement from trusted messengers combined with the faith that a relatively small action on my part could bring us back to a place of safety, an improved economy and opportunities for joyous gathering led me to my first shot, and then my second.
The pandemic can create an environment of powerlessness, but I found real empowerment in protecting my health and the health of those around me. In a time of distanced interaction, awareness that this protection would ripple outwards, beyond my bubble, helped me feel connected to my community and proud to contribute to overall community safety.
The fact is, having the option to be vaccinated is a privilege which millions of people currently do not have, and Alameda County now enjoys a fortunate position for widespread, effective vaccine distribution.
Each vaccine boasts between 86%-95% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against death from COVID in vaccinated people. This statistic bears repeating: 100% efficacy against death from COVID.
In this moment, we are quite literally holding our own lives and the lives of others in our hands. As interconnected individuals, we must accept that now more than ever our actions have consequences.
Please, take the safety and health of others as seriously as you take your own by choosing to get vaccinated.
Editor's note: Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley represents Pleasanton, East Oakland, Castro Valley, El Portal Ridge, Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview and Montclair on the Board of Supervisors. Miley received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, with his first dose on March 3 and second on March 25.