Vax It Up To Protect Your Loved Ones

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Adrienne Shapiro, mother to an SCD Warrior, photo courtesy of NHLBI

Sick Cells sat down with Adrienne Shapiro, the fifth generation of mothers in her family to have a child with sickle cell disease, to discuss the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Adrienne is the founder of Axis Advocacy, an advocate for sickle cell and stem cell research, and is on the Sick Cells Board of Directors. 

Adrienne received her first Moderna vaccine in April 2021. To get her vaccine, Adrienne registered online on the California Department of Public Health website, which lists the vaccination sites. Part of her reason to get vaccinated was due to an ongoing commitment to vaccination in the family. Adrienne shared that, in a way, vaccines help keep her sickle cell Warrior alive by protecting her. “I don’t know if there ever was a ‘should I or shouldn’t?’…it was when can I get it, and all of us are getting it,” Adrienne concluded. 

Upon getting the vaccines, she said she felt fortunate to have access to both doses. “I feel blessed to be some place where I could have access to the vaccine and that my entire family could have access. My daughter, who has sickle cell, my younger daughter who has trait, and also my husband,” said Adrienne. After the first dose, she did not have any side effects however, on the second one, she was a bit tired and had soreness in her arm.

Vaccination around the world

While vaccinations have been generally available in the U.S., this is not the case in other countries around the world, despite a few global efforts to address differences. COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax), an international vaccination program run by four global partners, was created last year to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are made available around the world, with wealthier countries often subsidizing costs for poorer nations. However, the vaccine programs in Vietnam have experienced delivery delays and other issues which have resulted in less than 10% of the population being vaccinated, according to BBC News.  Similarly, less than 2% of the entire population of the continent of Africa is vaccinated.  One notable reason for lower vaccination in other countries is that, earlier in the pandemic, wealthy countries committed to supplying doses but have since lacked follow up. Overall, less than 15% of the promised supplies have actually been provided.

In addition to limited access to vaccines, social distancing as a safety measure may not be easy to manage. In many other countries where multigenerational households are common, there may not be enough space in the home to allow individuals to keep social distance, increasing the risk of actually getting COVID-19 and reducing the ability to isolate. 

The importance of getting vaccinated to protect loved ones

Adrienne with daughters Marissa and Casey

Sickle cell disease weakens the immune system so, for caregivers like Adrienne, taking extra precautions by getting vaccinated to make sure they reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 is crucial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also listed sickle cell disease as one of the populations vulnerable to severe COVID-19. Therefore, there is a priority to get the vaccination which will reduce their chances of experiencing complications and health challenges in the future due to instances of Long COVID-19.


Take Away Message 

For those who are still unsure whether they want to get vaccinated, there are a lot of resources to help you make the decision that’s best for you. To learn more, visit one of these resources: Project SCoviD. Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), and the CDC

If you would like to learn more about Adrienne Shapiro’s nonprofit organization, Axis Advocacy, visit:


This blog post was written by Nneka Okeke, Sick Cells Communication Intern. Nneka is a graduate student getting her Masters in Public Health at Emory University.  She is a big advocate for SCD warriors!

Published January 7, 2022

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