By Parveen Chopra
Editor, The South Asian Times
New York: In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s We Can Do This public education campaign to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage vaccination, TDW+Co, in partnership with the US Department of Health, hosted a virtual press briefing for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) media on June 10.
In the first half of the event, Dr Vivek H. Murthy, Surgeon General, spoke. The second half consisted of separate breakout sessions in different languages for different ethnicities. Questions from the South Asian media were responded to in English by Dr Purvi Parikh, allergist and immunologist, who is a vaccine researcher at NYU Langone Health.
While acknowledging that we all have been impacted in some ways by the pandemic, Dr Murthy emphasized that vaccination is halfway to life becoming normal again. He said that we all have to provide correct information about vaccines, lift the voices of those in each community saying that these are safe and trusted, to instill confidence in people and remove vaccine hesitancy. He pointed out that there are more ways and more easy ways to get vaccinated now in America. Sharing the fact that he worries about his wife who is Chinese and their children, Dr Murthy also spoke against hate of AAPI communities.
The very first question Dr Purvi Parikh took was from The South Asian Times: What actions are being taken to eliminate Covid? She replied, “The biggest action is vaccines. We have seen how quickly they work, the infection rates have dropped significantly where the numbers of vaccinated are high. We are also researching how these vaccines can be adapted for new variants that may emerge. Third, we are studying all the therapeutics to treat if you do get sick.”
She said there are no long term adverse effects because these types of vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) are not ‘live’ vaccines, meaning there is no actual Covid infection in them. The majority of side effects like fever or body ache happen within the first few days of the shot, which shows that your immunity response is kicking up.
When asked how the South Asian, especially Asian Indian community has responded to the call to get vaccinated, she said the good news is that they overwhelmingly want to get vaccinated and they do get vaccinated. They should, she said, because South Asians are at a higher risk of getting severe Covid and death from the disease as they have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.