COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on day-to-day life; its consequences felt disproportionately amongst communities of color. High rates of infection and low vaccinations mean many of the most vulnerable people will ultimately remain at risk for severe illness or death.

Felton and You, Let's Talk Vaccines

It’s a problem for which there are several reasons; access to medical facilities and resources, community trusted providers to administer the vaccines, paid time off from work if side effects are experienced and the decades of medical mistreatment of people of color that continues even today all contribute to many being hesitant or resistant altogether.

To help tackle the issue of vaccine hesitancy, Felton Institute hosted a webinar for its Young Adult Court (YAC) program. The lecture was given by Dr. Malcolm John, director of the UCSF HIV/AIDS Program and graduate of Harvard Medical School. His research “addresses molecular and immunologic components of diseases… among African Americans.” (

Dr. John, who presents as African American, and works with Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, addressed concerns about the vaccine and its development, effectiveness and overall risk of exposure to COVID-19. Following the presentation, YAC participants were able to pose their own thought-provoking questions directly:

YAC: Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick?
DRJ: The COVID-19 vaccine may cause side effects such as slight aches or a mild fever for one or two days after receiving the dose; more severe side effects are very unlikely.

YAC: I heard the COVID-19 vaccine can be lethal—is that true?
DRJ: The chances of the COVID-19 vaccine causing extreme side effects like blood clots that can lead to death are extremely rare. In fact, it is more likely you get a blood clot from COVID-19 itself as compared to the vaccine.

YAC: Why are corporations incentivizing getting vaccinated—is there a financial connection that is not being disclosed?
DRJ: Private corporations, local governments, and employers are incentivizing vaccination in hopes to end the pandemic sooner. If a private company offers a bargain or perk for providing your vaccination record, it is likely they have suffered consequences during the pandemic and want to stop the spread of the virus to benefit their organization as well as the public.

Participants in Young Adult Court devote their time to bettering their futures. While the news surrounding COVID-19 can feel overwhelming, Felton Institute’s priority is to provide access to the accurate information they need to make informed decisions regarding their personal health, from professionals as diverse as its clients. It is just one small part of how they contribute to the overall wellness of the community.

For information about Felton’s Young Adult Court (YAC) program, contact Dr. Robin Ortiz at

by Alisa Thorsen and J. Elliott Mendez

Three W’s to ward off COVID-19: wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.

Felton 3 W's Health Check

About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.

Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties.

Felton is named for its social services pioneer and executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton who was called the ”conscience of San Francisco” and was committed to ensuring that children and families in crisis have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency.