A Shot in the Arm for the Arts

Jazz Philadelphia President’s Letter from Gerald Veasley

The line of people snaked around the block looked like it wasn’t going to ever move. Yet there was very little grumbling from the participants in spite of the frigid morning air. Everyone wanted to be here. This wasn’t a queue for a Black Friday sale on televisions or to buy tickets to the first of the live shows we can’t wait to see.

These were folks who assembled at Deliverance Church in North Philadelphia to receive a shot in the arm. The Covid-19 vaccine was finally here and so were we, seeking an end to the isolation we had experienced for nearly a year.

I had resolved that whenever a vaccine became available I would take it:  I would shed a litany of concerns, including my suspicion of “Operation Warp Speed”, an aversion to needles, impatience for long lines, and the ignoble legacy of the Tuskegee Experiment. 

I would get a shot in the arm so I could live more freely, and protect my community.

It should be noted that the distrust of the medical establishment, especially among Black people, has been well earned. The Tuskegee Experiment is just the most well-known and egregious betrayal of trust. Black people have experienced a long documented history of sub-standard care and neglect by the medical profession. 

Taking that track record into account, vaccine hesitancy makes sense. However, Black people have also been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, the most likely to contract coronavirus and die from it. Given those brutal facts, for me, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Vaccine hesitancy makes sense. However, Black people have also been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, the most likely to contract coronavirus and die from it. Given those brutal facts, for me, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Meanwhile, though some folks are hesitant, there are others who want the vaccine and can’t get it. If that’s you and you live in the Philadelphia area, there are resources below to help. 

Finally, there’s another important reason I support getting vaccinated: I want our arts and culture sector to rebound. Those of us who work in concert halls, nightclubs, museums, and theaters rely on robust audience attendance to make the business of arts and culture work.

It’s hard to envision audiences coming back in sufficient numbers without reaching herd immunity. For that to happen, we need 240 million people to be vaccinated. As of this date, according to the CDC, 43 million people have been fully vaccinated and about 79.4 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

Are you ready to join the growing number of people who have overcome their hesitancy?

Think of your vaccination as a shot in the arm for the arts.

With Love and Respect,

Gerald Veasley

President, Jazz Philadelphia


Vaccination Resources

Black Doctors COVID Consortium

PhilaVax (Phila Dept. of Public Health)

There’s even a Facebook Group that will help you find locations for available vaccines:

PA CoVID Vaccine Match Maker

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