Former Lakers star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former talk-show host Arsenio Hall and actor Danny Trejo each received one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines on camera Wednesday to encourage Angelenos to get inoculated.
“I am so happy to be here with Danny and my 40-year friend Arsenio Hall to take this vaccination because it’s so important. I’ve been doing everything the right way, wearing my mask, cleaning my hands all the time, I’ve been taking a COVID-19 test seems like every two weeks,” said Johnson, who received the Pfizer vaccine.
“The most important thing now is to get this vaccine and to ease my mind … I’ve done all my research and homework and I consulted my doctors and they said this what I should be doing,” he added.
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas administered the shots to Johnson, Hall and Trejo at a city-run site at USC’s University Park campus to specifically encourage people in South Los Angeles to get the vaccine.
The site is in a seven-floor parking garage and people can drive or walk up to receive their vaccine. “Most importantly, it’s right here in South L.A. … as you probably all know, recent data has shown that 4% of South L.A. residents have been vaccinated as of mid-February, and yet 18% or 16% of the COVID-19 patients were coming from this area,” USC President Carol Folt said.
With vaccines rolling out over the last few months, the rate of infections in L.A. County has dramatically declined. The seven-day average is about 648 cases per day, while a couple of months ago it was over 20,000, Mayor Eric Garcetti noted.
“I’m so proud to take this shot, and I know there’s a lot, even in my neighborhood, there’s a lot of tough guys that are talking about `you don’t need no shot’ but you know what, maybe your family does,” said Trejo, who received the Moderna vaccine. “If you don’t take it for yourself, take if for your family, because I want to keep my kids safe.”
Hall, who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said the health precaution should transcend politics.
“By the way, Donald J. Trump and Barack Obama both got this, they don’t agree on nothing but they’ve both got the vaccine,” Hall said. “I trust our scientists a lot more than I trust my mother’s cooking. Thank you Earvin for inviting me to do it. We got to do this because we got to get back to normal and this is the only path to it.”
Johnson, Trejo and Hall, dubbed the “New L.A. Dream Team” by Garcetti, were joined by County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, City Councilman Curren Price and L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer to urge the South Los Angeles community to get vaccinated.
“Decades of systemic racism and inequitable distribution of the very resources that support good health have left these communities especially vulnerable to the pandemic,” Ferrer said. “In order to tackle the stark injustice this pandemic has laid bare, the vaccine rollout must be laser focused on addressing issues of equity and considerations for reducing barriers to vaccination.”
Garcetti said the city’s Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity program, which brings vaccines into low-income communities with dense households, has administered more than 36,000 doses, 90% of which went into the arms of people of color.
“The steps that we are taking today to make sure you’re vaccinated protects us individually and protects our community. And it’s important that we all step up to the plate when we can,” Councilman Curren Price said. “I was an early proponent of taking the vaccine and when my turn came, I took it. You should do the same … we’re going to be chipping away at this until everyone in our community has their little card and to show and demonstrate that they’ve had the shot.”
Mitchell urged people who may not automatically trust the vaccine, to speak to people they trust in their community.
“We’re asking that ever Angeleno ask your doctor, talk to trusted partners, talk to community clinics, the community based organizations about why this is important for our collective future, so our kids can return to school, so the USC students can come back next year and continue to live their full lives,” she said.
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