With spring in full swing, COVID restrictions beginning to lift, and our first IN PERSON session around the corner, this feels like a great moment to pause and celebrate. I’m feeling a lot of things right now: gratitude and relief most of all, but also continued thought about how to continue to keep my young kids safe and protect the most vulnerable folks in my community.

I’m also feeling determined to support those who are helping everyone, especially women, access to this vaccine. Current estimates tell us that almost 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated and in Missouri the share of 18+ population who has initiated vaccination is nearing 52% with 37.4% of women and 30.6% of men completing their vaccinations.

Here’s what we know: the vaccine is saving lives. It’s allowing women to go back to work and to reconnect with the important networks of community we have all been missing over the last year. But we know of obstacles standing in the way of many getting their vaccinations, including too many women, perhaps because of confusion, misinformation and disinformation, inconvenient vaccination sites, and barriers to transportation and accessible languages.

The barriers also point to racial disparity in who is being vaccinated. Only a third of all vaccinated Americans are people of color — even while Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities shared the greater burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths. In Missouri only 9.2% of American Indian or Alaska Native, 35.2% of Asian, and 18.6 % of Black or African-American have completed vaccination as of May 6th.

So in this month’s article I encourage our Greater Missouri network to talk with your family, friends, and neighbors, especially the women in your life, about the COVID-19 vaccine. Perhaps you can initiate conversations countering vaccine disinformation, and working together to get more vaccinated. Join in the conversation and spend some time talking about what we can do next to make the country safer for everyone.

For Missouri COVID-19 vaccine information, visit www.MOStopsCovid.com. Learn facts about the vaccines and how to get registered for vaccination. Everyone aged 12 and up is eligible for vaccination now in Missouri.