For a summer of fun and friendship, let’s vaccinate all youth 12+

When the COVID-19 pandemic led to prolonged shutdowns here in San Francisco, all of us had to find a new normal, working and going to school from home, ordering takeout and delivery from our favorite restaurants, and video chatting with friends and family.

Now that our state has reopened, my organization, the Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC), is cautiously optimistic that we can get back to all the activities and programs we offered before COVID-19 took over our lives. To do this, we need your help.

It is important more than ever to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. With the emergence of the more transmissible Delta variant, there is a renewed urgency to get everyone who’s eligible — including our youth — vaccinated as quickly as possible. Vaccines have been scientifically proven to be highly effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

We must not be complacent. To ensure we can stay open for all the children and youth we serve, I am asking all parents whose kids are 12 and older to please get your children vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are scientifically proven to be safe and effective. They truly represent our path to normalcy, such as enjoying all our JCYC programs and activities. And the CDC recently announced an alarming rate of hospitalizations in youth 12-17 from COVID-19, so the time is now to protect your children from serious illness.

Some of the parents whose children we serve may have heard misinformation about the vaccines. Some of them might still be weighing the decision to vaccinate their kids. To them, I simply say: I got vaccinated for your children, so that they can get back to seeing their friends here at JCYC. I encourage any parent who is still on the fence about vaccination to talk to their family doctor or to their friends who have been vaccinated. Ask them about why they did it.

Those parents will probably hear many answers. Some people do it to get back to work. Some do it because they are at risk for serious complications from COVID-19. Others do it to protect their elderly family members. There are numerous reasons to “get the jab,” but one is certain: the available COVID-19 vaccines are a critical part of stopping the pandemic.  The more people who get vaccinated, the more we can ensure our schools and small businesses in San Francisco and across the state can stay open.

All of us at JCYC know how much our young members sacrificed during the pandemic. From having to attend school online to missing parties and sporting events, they had to give up so many milestones and special occasions. I also know that getting them back together with their friends is so important for their mental health.

The pandemic is not over — COVID-19 and its variants are still out there. Getting all adolescents vaccinated is important to ensure that your kids can have a summer and fall that is full of the activities and friendships they miss so much. The more vaccinations that get into the arms of those who are eligible, the more we stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks. Even better, as a parent, you can rest easy that your vaccinated child is protected against serious COVID infection, hospitalization, and death, which sadly has happened to a few children in our state.

Getting your eligible children vaccinated is easy, and it is free. All information is confidential. Please do your part to protect your child and give them back all the fun activities they love. We cannot wait to see them at the JCYC.

To find an appointment near you, visit MyTurn.ca.gov. If you don’t have access to the internet, call the state’s COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 (833-4CA-4ALL), which offers interpreters for 250-plus languages. You can also call your family doctor, local community health clinic or public health office for more information.

I’m vaccinated and ready to welcome the community to JCYC this summer and fall as we get back to all the activities we love. Parents, please help your kids get ready by getting them vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. And if you need an extra nudge, California’s “Vax for the Win” vaccine incentive program is still offering $50 incentive cards or tickets to Six Flags while supplies last. Full details and eligibility can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/vax-for-the-win.

Jon Osaki is a native San Franciscan and has served as the executive director of JCYC since 1996. During Jon’s tenure as executive director, JCYC has grown to become one of San Francisco’s most successful youth organizations, annually serving over 5,000 children and youth from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Under Jon’s leadership, JCYC’s programs have received national recognition for achieving outstanding outcomes for youth and the organization is frequently called upon by the city of San Francisco to implement new initiatives for children and youth. For information, visit https://www.jcyc.org. The views expressed in the preceding commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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