COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Panel: Melanated & Vaccinated: Real People, Real Stories

The Pasadena Public Health Department will host a free virtual event, Melanated & Vaccinated: Real People, Real Stories, on Thursday, December 16, 2021, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. via Zoom. Panelists will share experiences and information to improve understanding of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and safety. Public Health Director and Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh said, “Vaccination is the key to protecting each person and our whole community from COVID-19 and the social and economic harms of the pandemic. Melanated & Vaccinated will feature community leaders sharing stories about their experiences getting protected against COVID-19 and provide factual information to dispel harmful myths.” The information is intended for all Pasadenans but will focus on questions from the African American community, which has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in Pasadena and across the nation.

In Pasadena as of November 30, 2021, approximately 1,080 confirmed COVID-19 cases (7.8% of overall cases) were among African American residents. African American residents have experienced a 30% higher rate of COVID-19 infection compared to White (non-Hispanics). Among Pasadenans who have had COVID-19, African Americans experienced more severe illness requiring hospitalization. They have died from COVID-19 at a rate two times higher than Latinx residents.

“We have heard a variety of reasons why some people have not gotten vaccinated yet,” stated Nicole Evans, Pasadena Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Director. “Information is coming from everywhere, and I understand the confusion. We have created a space we hope people feel connected and empowered to get their questions answered. I am excited to have the community join us for what I believe will be an honest discussion and a valuable experience at Melanated & Vaccinated.”

Jacque James, Health Committee Chair of the Pasadena NAACP, will serve as the event moderator. The panelists include local Pasadena community leaders, Patrice Marshall-McKenzie and Justin Hester. Patrice Marshall-McKenzie has 15 years of experience working with state and local government leaders including members of the California State Legislature and the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Justin Hester is a Firefighter Paramedic and has worked for the City of Pasadena Fire Department for nearly 13 years. In addition, Dr. Mark Burns, a clinical infectious disease expert, will join the panel from Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Burns has over 33 years of experience in the field of medicine and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville.

The event will also feature testimonial videos highlighting the experiences of Pasadena residents. For additional details, please visit the Eventbrite registration page at:

The community is invited to submit questions for panelists in advance. Contact Claudia Pinedo at or (626) 744-6097.