By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
The California Department of Public Health today called it “shocking.”
Asian Americans made up nearly 20 percent of all deaths in California from COVID-19 through the first week of June 2023, according to Yurina Melara Valiulis, multiethnic press secretary for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
The health department made the announcement during a news conference today in an effort to encourage Asian Americans to become fully vaccinated before the holiday season that begins in just a few weeks.
The state has documented 104, 436 deaths in California from the start of the COVID-19 through October 27, 2023.
The state’s health department says through early June, 19.6 percent of those deaths were Asian Americans, 4.2 percent higher than the community’s total population of 15.4%.
Yet only 8.5% of Asian Americans are up to date with their COVID vaccinations.
“The updated vaccine is the best protection from getting really sick this fall,” said Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, the department’s Chief Equity Officer. “It offers the best protection against variants that are circulating right now.
Case rates for the flu, the respiratory virus RSV and COVID-19 typically go up during the holiday season when families get together and celebrations typically take place indoors.
The rate for Pacific Islanders is 82 percent higher than other Californians.
Those who live in multi-generational households are especially encouraged to all get updated vaccines because of the likely presence of grandparents and other elders.
Radhakrishna expressed concern that many people have not received a COVID vaccination in a year or more.
“We strongly encourage you to roll up your sleeves and not only get the COVID vaccine, but the flu (vaccine) as well which you can get on the same day. There is also now an RSV vaccine which is available for older adults, the pregnant and children,” he said.
He reminded the public that COVID-19 vaccinations are still free through your health insurance. For those uninsured, free shots are available through federal programs.
For those who are feeling symptoms, the Health Department says it’s important to get treated as soon as possible. Treatments are available for anyone 12 years or older.
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