Vaccine availability gives hope for AAPI May Heritage Month

New York: May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a celebration of AAPI achievements and a time for the country to recognize our communityʼs contributions throughout U.S. history. This year, in the face of anti‑Asian hate incidents and our communityʼs continued economic and social challenges, AAPI Heritage Month takes on a new meaning: Hope. As of this month, anyone aged 12 and older is eligible to get the COVID‑19 vaccine. States are also seeing increases in the availability of vaccine appointments, a shift from previously hard‑to‑get appointments. As of May 17, among the 157 million Americans vaccinated are 5.9% of Asians and 0.3% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander groups who have had at least one vaccination – meaning some 5.44 million of them.
Moreover, over 84.5% of older Americans (65‑Plus adults) have been vaccinated by now, which shows that the wider community is doing their part to protect our elders and others by getting vaccinated.
The 5.44 million AAPI community members who are vaccinated are on their way to resuming the activities that they miss̶ seeing family and friends, gathering with the older generation, and traveling. And, vaccines are preventing  early 100% of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID. This is proof that the vaccines are effective. In a recent AARP panel, Dr. Adelaida M. Rosario shared about the unique challenges of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities in receiving information
about the vaccine. “The AANHPI community is extremely diverse and therefore, there isnʼt a onesize‑fits‑all approach with communications,” said Rosario. “The Department of Health and Human Services has been working on a number of print materials and virtual materials in the relevant languages so we can reach the community in their native tongue.” Rosario was referring to a new national campaign that includes outreach and advertising to more than 15 AAPI communities, called We Can Do This. “In addition to this pandemic, thereʼs this heightened negative attention right now, focused on the Asian American community because of all the stereotypes and itʼs terribly unfortunate,” Rosario added. “It becomes a ʻdouble pandemicʼ essentially for all of our older Asian American community members because theyʼre dealing with all of this awful discrimination in addition to, layered with, this health crisis.”

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