Last spring, social distancing restrictions roiled our local economy. Festivals and sporting events were canceled, large gatherings were prohibited, and the bars and restaurants that make our city a premier tourist destination were asked to close their doors. In May of 2020, business revenues plummeted, and many workers were laid off, leaving 1 in 4 city residents unemployed.
To move our city forward, we must turn to life-saving vaccines to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. This pandemic has strained the businesses that make our city so unique. The local places that make up the fabric of New Orleans are still feeling its effects.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which is more important this year than ever. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven safe and effective at preventing severe illness and avoiding overcrowded hospitals.
Understandably, many people wanted to learn more about these vaccines. In April, we partnered with the All of Us Research Program, an effort that aims to gather health data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research that may improve health, to host “I Got My Vaccine, Now What’s Next?” The virtual event was dedicated to having healthcare experts answer common questions people may have before getting the vaccine, about the vaccine itself, and what you can and can’t do after getting it.
The All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to gather health information from one million or more people living in the United States to diversify research. The program understands that many communities have historically been left out of research, which means that medical treatments don’t always have everyone in mind. The program plans to build one of the most diverse health information resources in history so that participants of all backgrounds can better understand their health while helping pave the way for more inclusive research and healthcare.
Though All of Us was not involved in developing COVID-19 vaccines, the work the program is doing can address the health disparities and representation gaps so many see in the health care system. By getting involved, you’re helping make sure your community is properly represented in the research that could lead to new discoveries.
It will take a while for our industry to make a full rebound. But for New Orleans to go back to the thriving, unique, and diverse city we know it can be, residents must get vaccinated. It’s safe, effective, and can save the lives of those you love.