As of today, all adults in Sonoma County are eligible to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s still a lot of hesitancy about whether to get the shot. Sonoma County has successfully vaccinated 36 percent of the adult population, and is surpassing other counties of similar size. But vaccine hesitancy is the next hurdle.
According to one tally, the North Bay, including Sonoma County, has the highest vaccine hesitancy rate in the Bay Area. A Bay Area Council Survey in March found about a quarter of those surveyed say they don’t plan on getting the shot.
Yessenia Zepeda was skeptical before she changed her mind a few weeks ago and got her first shot at the Cesar Chavez Health Fair in Santa Rosa. She lost a family member to the virus.
"With being a mother, I want to definitely take whatever measures or precautions that are out there to keep my little one healthy and myself healthy so I can care after her," Zepeda said.
After the J&J vaccine was paused this week because of a few rare cases of side effects, people have even more questions. For Dr. Jenny Fish, who specializes in family medicine at Sutter Santa Rosa, tackling vaccine hesitancy is all about building trust in communities and listening. Especially in Latinx communities hit hardest by COVID-19.
"It doesn’t really work with us as doctors to just show up in the community and say here, believe us...you know especially in communities of color that have experienced institutionalized racism for years and decades and generations," Fish said.
Even among those who want to get the vaccine, health officials say supply is still insufficient to vaccine everyone. On Wednesday the CDC announced the one-dose J&J vaccine will be paused for at least another week to assess risk.