Norma Cavazos: Get the COVID-19 Vaccine to Protect Your Health, Community!


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Norma Cavazos: Get the COVID-19 Vaccine to Protect Your Health, Community!
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Like many of us, Norma Cavazos has had her life turned upside down by COVID-19.

Many of her family members have gotten sick. Some even died. She’s had to stay at home for over a year now, doing curbside grocery shopping, spending time away from her family.

Cavazos can’t wait for the pandemic to end.

But when the COVID-19 vaccine first came out, Cavazos didn’t want to get it. She read a few fake news articles that claimed the vaccine would make people with underlying health conditions very sick.

Ultimately, after doing more research and talking to her doctors, Cavazos decided to get the vaccine.

She’s relieved she did.

“It is a load of bricks off my shoulders. I’m more happy. I’m able to hug people,” Cavazos said.

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How COVID-19 Changed Her Life

Cavazos lives in Harlingen, Texas, where she works as a Prevention Specialist at the Office of Border Public Health in the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Since the pandemic began, Cavazos has had to make many adjustments to her life.

“It basically turned my life upside down. I lost some family members from the COVID virus, but also my work life. I’ve been home for way over a year now doing my job from home. Everything has changed to meetings that are virtual,” Cavazos said.

Norma Cavazos: Get the COVID-19 Vaccine to Protect Your Health, Community!

Cavazos also hasn’t been able to spend time with family and adjust how she lives her day-to-day life.

“My personal life also has changed a lot because our families were used to having reunions, our gatherings, celebrations, birthdays, holidays, and we have not been able to do that like we were used to as a big family. Even simple daily life, I was used to going grocery shopping like many people, but now I order online, and I do curbside pickup, even now,” Cavazos said.

Cavazos never got COVID-19 herself and was always diligent with safety precautions.

“I didn’t get COVID. I was very blessed. I practiced all the social distancing, the masks, and washing the hands. I hoped and prayed that would work and it has. But I know a lot of family and friends that have gotten COVID and they’ve had a lot of struggles, so I’ve been blessed that I haven’t,” Cavazos said.

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Encountering Fake News About the Vaccine

Cavazos was initially very against taking a vaccine.

“When I heard about the vaccines already coming and they were going to be administered, I thought, ‘I’m not taking it,’” Cavazos said.

Cavazos wanted to research the vaccine and was reading all she could about it.

“I read a lot of stories; everything and anything I could get my hands on to read. Mostly stories, I read and saw on TV. And those were the major news sources,” Cavazos said.

In doing her research, she also came across unreliable, fake information about the vaccine while Googling it.

“I also got stories from Google. When I read stories on vaccines, I would finish a story and I would scroll down, and there were other titles in there having to do with the vaccine. And they were not the major news sources. And so at some point, I realized that they were fake news,” Cavazos said.

Norma Cavazos: Get the COVID-19 Vaccine to Protect Your Health, Community!She read that the vaccine would be harmful to people with underlying health conditions.

“It basically was saying that the vaccine was not good for some people, in particular people like me. For a person like me with a medical underlying condition, the vaccine was not going to do any good and it will probably do worse for me than better,” Cavazos said.

Reading so many conflicting things about the vaccine made her not want to get it at all.

“I was more confused and scared than anything,” Cavazos said.

Most of her family and friends also didn’t want the vaccine.

“I had a lot of family and friends around my age, some younger, some older, having underlying medical conditions and were scared. Sharing the information that we knew, we all made up our minds – it wasn’t going to happen,” Cavazos said.

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Changing Her Mind: ‘You Can Live, or You Can Die’

The confusion continued when Cavazos began to read stories about people who were getting sick from COVID-19 rather than the vaccine.

“I started seeing stories from the major news media that young, healthy adults, like my young adult children, they were dying from the COVID virus with no underlying medical conditions. And I said, ‘well, where does that leave me?’” Cavazos said.

So she decided to call her doctor to find out the truth.

Norma Cavazos: Get the COVID-19 Vaccine to Protect Your Health, Community!

“I asked him, ‘Should I take it?’ And they were very blunt. Every single one, because I have several specialists, they told me the same thing. ‘Norma, you have a choice. You can live, or you can die.’ And I was a little shocked. I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ They said, ‘Well, you can live if you take the vaccine, you’re not going to die, you’re not going to end up in ICU, in the hospital. Or you can die if you get the virus, because you have underlying medical conditions, even healthy people are dying. So you do have that choice.’ Well, them being so blunt, I realized that they were right,” Cavazos said.

She realized it isn’t any different from the flu vaccine, which she takes every year.

“I’ve taken it for like 35 years, every year, and I don’t get the flu. So I said, ‘Yeah, they know what they’re doing when they create these vaccines.’ I’m gonna go ahead and take it. And I did,” Cavazos said.

Cavazos got the Moderna vaccine and felt fine after.

“The reactions were very minor. Wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, especially the second vaccine. It was nothing big,” Cavazos said.

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Convincing Others to Get Vaccinated

After Cavazos got her vaccine, her friends and family called her wondering how she felt.

She decided she would relay the message from her doctors – you can live, or you can die.

“They were waiting to see what was going to happen to me. I talked with them and was telling them exactly what my doctors told me, ‘You have a choice. You can live, or you can die. Take the vaccine. And if you take the vaccine, you’re not going to die,’” Cavazos said.

She managed to convince all her hesitant family and friends to get vaccinated.

“All of them, except one, have taken the vaccine already. And that one person is a young adult, who will soon be taking it because I continued to insist that it was better than dying. And that made the point across that it was important,” Cavazos said.

Now that she’s vaccinated, Cavazos is still keeping up her safety precautions but feels more comfortable seeing family and friends.

“I know that we’re not done with COVID-19 and I want to make sure that I’m not going to get sick even though I got the vaccine. It is a load of bricks off my shoulders. I think I do more things now. I’m more happy. I’m able to hug people,” Cavazos said.

Cavazos hopes that more people will get vaccinated to help out their communities.

“I think it’s going to be really important for this pandemic to end. We have to do it together. Everyone’s going to have to take that vaccine, because it’s not about just that person that’s taking the vaccine. It’s about their loved ones, their friends, their neighbors, and their community. We have to make the right choice. Take the vaccine,” Cavazos said.

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This success story was produced by Salud America! with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The stories are intended for educational and informative purposes. References to specific policymakers, individuals, schools, policies, or companies have been included solely to advance these purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation. Stories are based on and told by real community members and are the opinions and views of the individuals whose stories are told. Organization and activities described were not supported by Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and do not necessarily represent the views of Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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One Response to “Study: Latino Mortality Advantage Disappeared amid COVID-19”

  1. Sister Nancy Carol Traeger, SSND.

    As I read the articles, I was wondering IF some classes/workshops on budgeting would be helpful for the Latino families….Along with that, “throw in” some helps in where/how to shop for healthy foods, getting politically involved via the petitions that come our way each day (SNAP and WIC) These are essential programs and getting info regarding how to make one’s voice heard about these programs, especially around Congressional budgeting. It’s something I do as much as I can in order to help with keeping these programs going and improving. Thank you for the info and the opportunity to comment on these important issues for ALL families. As a former director of a homeless shelter for women and children, I had quite an education around the county-side of getting help, and learning to be patient while having to wait. I think shame is also a detriment for folks, having to get “charity” as it’s sometimes called.