Edward Henderson and Kassidy Henson, California Black Media

Four influential California Black women came together for a Facebook Live conversation focused on the COVID Delta Variant, the safety of vaccines and how they work.

Dr. Rhea Boyd, pediatrician, and minority community health advocate was the medical expert on the panel hosted by Regina Wilson, executive director of California Black Media, with the support of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The other two participants were former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford and Teala Dunn, an actress and social media influencer.

The discussion was livestreamed on the CDPH’s Facebook page and is still available to the public.

With Wilson moderating, Dunn and Crawford posed a series of questions to Boyd – inquiries that reflected some of the most common concerns African Americans have regarding the COVID vaccine.

“We are actually at the most dangerous point in this pandemic that we have been in yet,” Boyd responded. “The delta variant is more than twice as contagious which means you’re more likely to be exposed to it right now if you’re out in the community. Because of that it’s spreading like wildfire.”

Crawford shared that she has contracted the Coronavirus twice. She was unvaccinated during her first bout and experienced another breakthrough case after being vaccinated.

“The first time I got COVID, I lost my sense of smell for 9 months. I had plenty of lingering symptoms afterwards. Thankfully I didn’t have to end up in the ICU for anything. The second time around when I got COVID with the Moderna vaccine, my symptoms were cut in half. It felt like the common cold that time around. So, I felt very lucky to be vaccinated.”

The conversation also addressed – and debunked — many misconceptions about the vaccine and its effects on the body. Dunn asked a question about went to the heart of a major concern amongst Black women: reproductive health and the vaccine. Could the vaccine negatively affect pregnancy and cause changes in menstruation patterns.

“We have the lowest vaccination rate in our community,” said Boyd. “Nine out of 10 Black pregnant women do not have a COVID vaccine, and I want you to consider getting one, but I understand your concern because you want to keep your baby safe. And what I want to say as a doctor is the number one way to protect baby and yourself during this pandemic is to get the COVID vaccine.”

Boyd went on to explain that if you breast feed after you deliver, mothers can share the immunity and antibodies that you build up from the vaccine to your child through your breast milk. She also assured the panel that the vaccine did not have any effect on menstrual patterns. She attributed an uptick in those cases to the increased stress and overall environment we are living in during the pandemic.

So far in California, 48.4 million people have received at least one COVID vaccine. That number represents more than 80 % of the state’s population who are eligible to get it. About 22.2 million Californians are fully vaccinated, accounting for more than 56 % of the state’s total population.

Boyd said many Blacks want to hear from a Black provider about the vaccine. But only 4% of our physician workforce is Black. We can’t talk to everybody one-on-one, which is why we have events like this one so you we can try and tell as many people as possible and hear from my face to yours that this vaccine is safe.”

Dunn responded to the information by asking what we can do to help protect our communities and what we can tell our friends and other ones who are still unsure about the vaccine.

“Black folks have been through a lot with the pandemic. We know the toll that COVID-19 takes, and we are the most motivated to do something about it,” Boyd said. “Unfortunately, Vitamin D supplements and exercise are not enough to prevent anyone from getting the vaccine.”

For additional information about access to the COVID vaccine, visit vaccinateall58.com to find a local clinic or call 833-422-4255 to have your questions answered.