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Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your community
This week on the Health Report, hear from one elder about why he got vaccinated.
“I wear the pants in my family. My wife just tells me which ones to wear…[laughs] I iron my parents, but she tells me which ones to wear, literally.”
Frank Paro has been part of the American Indian Movement since 1973, and he credits their success to women.
“AIM has never done nothing without some women telling us what to do. And I stress that every time I talk,” he said.
That was in part why Paro decided to get vaccinated following a meeting at the Native American Community Clinic last year.
“I’m getting ready to leave. And one of the nurses says ‘Frank, how old are you?’
I said, at that time I was 69, I said, ‘I’m 69.’
‘Here fill this form out.’
‘What’s that for?’
‘That’s for vaccination.’
‘Oh, I ain’t getting that.’
‘You’re an elder. You’re important to us and you got – you’re vulnerable. You got all these got diabetes, you got this.’
And you know, she knows my health history. And somebody else, some of the elders: ‘Frank you gotta get this shot, you. So they all started harping on me. So okay,” Paro recalls.
Paro was initially skeptical about the vaccine’s safety…and now looks forward to getting a third booster.
“I imagine we’re okay I don’t see nothing grown on me. I don’t feel nothing. I suppose we’re gonna be alright. We’re not gonna get out of this world alive anyway,” he said.
We are seated at Paro’s de facto office on sunny days: the Pow Wow Grounds parking lot off Minneapolis’ Franklin Ave. Paro and Lisa Bellinger became national co-directors of AIM in May of 2020, in the early months of the pandemic and just days before the murder of George Floyd.
At the time, the AIM Patrol mobilized hundreds of people to protect buildings throughout the neighborhood. Volunteers have since shifted to doing outreach on COVID prevention. They raise awareness about best practices and provide vaccines at pow wows across the Midwest.
“Friends and family got COVID and people got concerned and interested. So how can we help? It’s just like anything else. When something hits home to a person, then they want to get involved and that’s how things happen.….It don’t matter who we are. We have to – we have to help each other. So the simple thing is, it starts off with: when your family is hurting, you want to help. When your friends’ family is hurting, you want to help your friends. So with this COVID thing, it just expands out further. You want to help anybody you can.” said Paro.
Paro says he doesn’t push people about their vaccination status. Instead, he remains aware of different states’ protocols, and keeps up with masking and using hand sanitizer.
“I don’t think this COVID stuff is ever gonna go away.”
Feven Gerezgiher reporting for the Minnesota Native News Health Report
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