By Alexa Oslowski
Source: former Councilmember Akilah Weber’s Twitter feed
April 20, 2021 (La Mesa) - On April 13 La Mesa City Council passed a resolution proposed by councilmembers Jack Shu and Bill Baber to improve vaccine equity by Juneteenth, or June 19.
Councilmember Shu shared San Diego County data that showed that members of the Black community are being vaccinated at much lower rates than other communities.
“We have enough time now to really work at it and to close that gap so we don’t have a difference between people who are protected by color, by ethnicity, by income, or where you live,” Councilmember Shu said during the meeting. “We need as many people as we can and as fast as we can, but we should also be doing so equitably.”
Juneteenth is a historic date that marks the official end of slavery when Union soldiers arrived in Texas to deliver the news, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. During the meeting, Shu said that based on the vaccination rates, this date became the ideal goal to achieve better vaccine equity.
“An effective strategy may be collaborating with trusted community members to spread information to minority groups about the COVID-19 vaccine. With this in mind, Councilmember Shu hopes to partner with community leaders and organizations, like faith groups, educational institutions, and businesses in order to facilitate the spread of information about the vaccine to groups who may be struggling to access COVID-19 resources,” Shu wrote in a press release.
Shu also wrote that his approach will be hands-on and community-based, so no one in La Mesa will be left behind. He believes that word-of-mouth communication, equipping teachers with up-to-date vaccine information for students to take home and sharing information with family and friends will be the most effective ways to get people to schedule vaccine appointments.
The resolution also received support from write-in public comments, read by City Clerk Megan Weigelman.
“Please pass this resolution to commit to the health and safety of all La Mesa neighbors. If we work together as a community, this can happen,” community member Melissa Walter wrote.
The resolution passed unanimously with wide support from all other council members.
“I think this is an amazing first step. We all know about the inequalities within our healthcare system, which we are also seeing with vaccine distribution,” Dr. Akilah Weber said. “My challenge would be to not just think about this resolution, but what are the next steps.”