Editor's note: This story was produced in conjunction with the Latino Communities Reporting Lab. A free Spanish translation is available at Myrecordjournal.com/latino-news.
Evelyn Robles-Rivas, supervisor of Language and Community Partnerships at Meriden Public Schools, is looking forward to families being together once again and students celebrating their accomplishments as more people get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Question: Which Covid-19 vaccine did you receive?
Answer: Moderna, it was in January, when the vaccine became available the board of education put together the vaccine clinic.
Q: Did you experience any side effects?
A: Not for the first one. For the second, I did. It was more like a 24-hour side effect. Some chills and a light headache are what I felt. I know this is different for every individual but I did not experience a severe side effect.
Q: How would you say getting the vaccine has impacted your job?
A: It makes me feel safe, I still follow the guidelines and wash my hands but I feel safer going to schools and visiting. Especially in my role as a supervisor, I have to visit all the schools, so I feel safe. Also, with my family, she is 97, so I feel like this was a good opportunity to be closer to my mother.
Q: During the pandemic, how did you work virtually, and when you came into the office, how did you feel?
A: During the first few months, everything was virtual then after that we came back to our offices and we did not have any interaction. Having been at home and doing everything virtual was a learning experience. Not being able to interact with people was difficult. Coming back I was nervous but was very confident the district was working closely with the health department. I have to say, the Meriden Health Department has done an amazing job.
Q: As the rollout of the vaccine continues, what are you looking forward to?
A: I am looking forward to summer activities and having small gatherings. In-person interactions are definitely what I am looking forward to because we need that. I am glad that a lot of teenagers are willing to get the vaccines as well. That definitely makes a huge impact for students to celebrate activities and graduation. Definitely, personal interactions are what we are looking forward to.
Q: Did you have any concerns leading up to the vaccine?
A: In the beginning, looking at how they advanced with the testing of the vaccine and how the percentage increases over time, definitely made me feel more confident. I have family we could not see for a long time, but being able to see my family because we had the vaccine was one of the most important reasons to get vaccinated. It is thinking also about the people around me making sure they are safe as well.
Q: What would you say to someone who may be hesitant?
A: If someone has not received the vaccine I would encourage them to do so. I would recommend them to go to their primary doctor and get information about the vaccine. If they are able to do it, I encourage them to do so.
I talk to family and friends that are reluctant to get the vaccine and I encourage them to go to health officials and ask the questions they need about the vaccine. It is important that people receive the correct information. Oftentimes people go into social media and get the wrong information. People should follow health guidelines. The more factual information they receive, the better decisions they will make about the vaccine. The Health Department was looking for opportunities, looking for ways to communicate and making sure our Spanish-speaking population was informed. Because it is so crucial our Latino families are also receiving information in their language. Meriden Public Schools and the Health Department did an excellent job in helping and informing people.