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Relief, anxiety among US Vietnamese diaspora over Covid-19 vaccinations

By Viet Anh   May 10, 2021 | 06:22 pm PT
The Vietnamese diaspora in the U.S. is experiencing mixed feelings: relief at getting vaccinated and worried about those who are avoiding it, delaying a return to normalcy.

"I had the second shot of Moderna vaccine in mid-April and I am happy to see that it is getting easier for people to get it," said Ly Huynh, a Vietnamese living in Washington D.C.

In the capital state, pharmacies have been offering free vaccines since early April. Residents do not need to register in advance as they needed to earlier; they can walk into any medical store to ask for a form and book vaccination appointments. Vaccinated people will have to wait for 15 minutes at the premises after getting their shot to check for any adverse reactions.

Huynh said business activities like shops and restaurants in Washington D.C. have been restored to about 70 percent of the normal. Most of the people around her are calm because of vaccine availability, which may help to reduce the mortality rate.

Ly Huynh gets the second shot of Covid-19 vaccine on April 16 in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Ly Huynh.

Ly Huynh gets the second shot of Covid-19 vaccine on April 16 in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Ly Huynh.

In Santa Ana, California, Vu Thi Hoang Anh said she felt safer and more secure after having two shots of the Pfizer vaccine in February. She can use the Othena app to check her health and use it as a vaccine passport. Her husband and children have also had their shots.

Hoang Anh also sees that it is more convenient for adults to get vaccinated compared to several months ago. Now, everyone can get their vaccine shots regardless of their immigration status. Hoang Anh said she hoped that things would return to normal soon as local authorities are actively promoting the Covid-19 vaccination program. They are calling people in their homes to encourage them to get vaccinated and even offering cash payments for doing so.

Public activities in Santa Ana are fully allowed now and residents are closely following the rules of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. However, there are some restrictions for tourists, she said.

In Austin, Texas, Vi Dang said that after getting two shots of the Pfizer vaccine, she can choose to go to the office when she wants instead of working at home. Her friends working at hospitals have told her that the vaccines have helped to reduce infections, leading to the disbanding of special teams. She could also see that a majority of Austin residents are resuming public activities.

In New York, Yen Nguyen is among many Vietnamese who have been fully vaccinated. The local government is offering different incentives for residents to join the vaccination program. The latest offer is of free tickets at two stadiums, home of the Yankees and the Mets, on game days.

Yen has heard that the city's social activities will resume on May 19 with residents required to observe preventive measures.

Fear and reluctance

About 46 percent of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 35 percent are fully vaccinated, according to data published Monday by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, about 153 million people, about 58 percent of the adult population in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest data from the CDC, CNN reported.

Hoang Anh said that Vietnamese community in Orange county has shown great interest in getting vaccinated. With over 100 million people getting their shots, it seems that the population is confident about the vaccines’ effectiveness.

However, Anh said there were people, mainly from South America, who were reluctant to get themselves vaccinated because they were fearful of side effects.

"Therefore, I am worried that it will take more time for the U.S. to achieve herd immunity."

Early on, the target herd immunity threshold in the U.S. was 60 to 70 percent of the population. But given the predominant variant now circulating in the U.S., experts are calculating the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent, according to the New York Times.

In San Diego city, California, Peter Nguyen said he has seen many people not wanting to get their shots even though they do not have to wait in line. Many Americans are skeptical about the vaccines while Asians seem to have faith in them.

Though Peter is permitted to go out without a mask after being fully vaccinated with the Modena vaccine he still wears one to protect himself and others.

He noted that when President Joe Biden set a new goal of administering at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 70 percent of the U.S. adult population and having 160 million U.S. adults fully vaccinated by July 4, he thought things will not return to normal soon.

"We may have to wait till next year to see the herd immunity."

Peter Nguyen after being fully vaccinated in March in California. Photo courtesy of Peter Nguyen.

Peter Nguyen after being fully vaccinated in March in California. Photo courtesy of Peter Nguyen.

Yen Nguyen in New York said several of her acquaintances are either worried about side effects or too busy to get themselves vaccinated. She has read that New York and other states have seen a decline in vaccines administered since mid-April.

Now she is concerned that it will be hard for New York to reach herd immunity in the short term if the city opens up next week as scheduled. She is also anxious about the city's plans to welcome around 50 percent of the tourists it did in 2019, which is around 66 million people, in an effort to boost the local economy.

"We have no idea if there will be a new wave or not. Therefore, I have to continue wearing a mask and keep my distance from others."

Vi Dang also said many Americans in Texas were refusing to get vaccinated. She hopes they will change their minds for specific benefits like being able to visit other countries that require a vaccine passport.

Ly Huynh knows of some people who denied the vaccines had contracted the virus and recovered without going to hospitals. They do not believe in the effectiveness of vaccines and choose to stay at home to avoid getting infected again. She considers such people "selfish."

"I am worried that if the number of people saying no to vaccines increases, the coronavirus may have more variants, creating new waves that are more dangerous. This will waste the efforts of countries attempting to produce vaccines," she said.

 
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