CIf your family is anything like mine, every Thanksgiving we take turns around the table, and everyone shares something they’re particularly thankful for this year.
Themes start to emerge. Family, career, relationships, shared moments.
Invariably, someone shares that they are grateful for their health — that they are well and able to enjoy time with loved ones.
Each of our health — our state of wellness — has taken on even greater focus over the past two years as a pandemic that has claimed over 5 million lives swept across the globe. All of us learned about ways to preserve life: physical distancing, masks, mRNA vaccines.
Now, as the holidays approach, COVID-19 cases are again beginning to rise, raising fears of yet another winter surge.
So, ahead of this holiday during which we take time to recognize all that we have to be thankful for, we should also remember that there are tens of thousands of California families that have lost a loved one to this disease (in all, more than 72,000 Californians have died from complications resulting from COVID-19). And we should do our part to ensure that as few as possible endure such painful losses in the future.
That means continuing to do everything you can, please, to encourage people in your community to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — talking with friends and family who might have concerns, identifying best messengers to reach out to communities of color and those who may be underserved (about 15% fewer Latinx and black adults get the annual flu shot than white adults), and influencing school leaders and parents to help their children and others.
Already, more than two-thirds of Californians are fully vaccinated, and with recent FDA approval for use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11, we can make real headway to protect more Californians from avoidable illness and death.
Much has been lost in the past two years; it’s our collective calling to protect all that remains. This is really the ultimate act of gratitude for our communities, for our family and friends, for our children.
And it’s the ultimate way to show thanks and honor those health care workers who are mentally and physically drained after nearly two years of nonstop crisis conditions. The sincere expressions of gratitude for these women and men will undoubtedly be shared at Thanksgiving tables throughout the nation next week. It’s incumbent on all of us to say thank you in a different way: through lightening their load via greater vaccination rates.
I hope you find time this holiday season to be with those you love, find time to rest your mind and body, and find time to recharge for the important missions that still lie ahead.