Letter to the editor graphic

My grandmother recently passed away after a heroic battle with COVID-19. At 94 years of age, with underlying conditions, and a longtime resident of a local assisted-living facility, my grandmother fully met the criteria for “recommended” populations to receive a priority vaccination under the Phase 1A distribution process as outlined by the California Department of Public Health. Unfortunately, our county has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that were recently granted emergency use authorization (EUA) under the FDA have solely been reserved for our front line healthcare workers — as it should be.

Before her facility (i.e., or even its healthcare workers) could gain access to these life-saving vaccines, my grandmother developed pneumonia in both lungs and ultimately succumbed to the relentless onslaught brought on by this deadly disease. The reason I share this painful memory is because of recent social media posts involving a local elected official (and his cameraman) proudly showing off that they had received vaccines from a local medical provider. Ironically, neither of these individuals meet the criteria for priority vaccination as outlined in Phase 1A.

As an elected official, I currently do not qualify for a vaccine. As an elementary educator, I currently do not qualify for a vaccine. As someone who has longstanding friendships with multiple local medical providers, I currently do not qualify for a vaccine. And as a lifelong sufferer of severe, chronic asthma, I currently do not qualify for a vaccine.

My father and mother both taught me to stand in front of the vulnerable/elderly to protect them — not to “skip” in front of them, altogether. Your Facebook pictures, comments, and likes can wait; our most vulnerable subgroups simply can’t. People are dying, leaving gaping holes in families, like my own, across our community. I urge every other elected public official (and those who do not meet the criteria outlined in Phase 1A) to kindly wait your turn. Because one grandparent skipped in line by an eager politician potentially translates into another devastating loss for our already hemorrhaging community.

Signed,

Andrew Arevalo

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