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Community COVID-19 vaccine questions: Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua

Source: The Stockton Record

Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua was elected in November 2020 to represent District 13 – composed of areas throughout Stockton, Tracy, Mountain House, Lodi, and Thornton – at the State Assembly. He was born and raised in Stockton and graduated from California State University, Sacramento.  

He previously served on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors for eight years and was the CEO of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

1. Why should people get vaccinated?  

The vaccine is a critical component for us to achieve herd immunity and finally put this pandemic behind us. Not only will it save lives and protect our communities, it will help get our economy back on track and ensure a sustained reopening to get people back to work and kids back to the classrooms full-time. 

2. Why do you think people are not getting vaccinated? Have community members said they don’t want to get vaccinated? And for what reasons?  

The digital age has brought us a tremendous amount of benefits, but it also carries certain detrimental risks such as the ease of spreading rumors and fallacies. This has led some people to develop misunderstandings around the vaccine and the coronavirus more generally. We’ve heard all sorts of reasons for not wanting to get the vaccine, ranging from individuals believing the coronavirus is not a serious threat to themselves or others, or that they simply don’t trust the experts and the safeness of the vaccine. 

3. How can people be assured that vaccines are safe? What is your advice to the community about vaccines? 

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control have some of the brightest minds in the world with the highest standards for the best interest and safety of our residents. The COVID-19 vaccine has gone through the same rigorous trials all vaccines have to go through for approval, and are continuing to be held to those same high standards, as shown by the temporary pause placed on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.  

For those who are hesitant, I encourage you to have an open and honest conversation with whichever expert you have a close relationship with, whether it be your primary care physician, pharmacist, or your friend who works in the medical field. 

4. What are your concerns about those who haven’t been vaccinated?  

My top concern remains to be the overall health and safety of our community and loved ones. Many individuals live in high-density areas with a wide range of age groups that will continue to be at risk of potential variants. People who remain unvaccinated are putting their own health and safety at risk while delaying our ability to reach herd immunity. 

5. How can the vaccination effort improve in the communities you are involved in? 

I am incredibly appreciative of how our city and county officials have worked to administer the vaccine to our communities. It has been a tremendous effort that has helped to supply a mass vaccination site and now allows for walk-up appointments at many of our clinics.

Our main efforts need to now transition from expanding supply to expanding demand, which can be aided by hyper-targeting members of the community by coming to them with the vaccine rather than asking them to come to us for the vaccine.  

We are working on solutions that provide this level of convenience by allowing more licensed medical experts, such as dentists and orthodontists, to administer the vaccine during normal check-up appointments. We continue to work every day to provide information and expand access to the vaccine for our community. For those with questions, I urge you reach out to my office at (209) 948-7479.