By: Dr. Jerry P. Abraham, MD MPH, CMQ

Vaccines, also known as immunizations, play an important role in keeping our LGBTQIA+ community safe. Especially for LGBTQIA+ people, it is critically important to be fully vaccinated and protected. For various reasons, members of our community are at higher risk for various infections including HIV, STIs, MPOX, viral hepatitis, meningitis, HPV, in addition to the usual pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc) including COVID-19, influenza, RSV, shingles, pneumonia, and so many others. Additionally, vaccines play an ever increasing role in preventing cancer, like cervical, throat, and anal cancer caused by HPV, as well as other serious conditions. Like it or not, vaccines are going to play an ever increasing role in our lives!

Unfortunately, our community has lower vaccination rates than the general population and that leaves us vulnerable, especially to various diseases and infections. There are many reasons that explain the lower rates of immunizations in our community including mistrust and distrust in the healthcare system and government, the misinformation and disinformation that spreads within our communities and on social media, as well as all of the structural and systemic barriers that stand in the way of LGBTQIA+ people and their vaccines, including discrimination and medical racism. Our community is more likely to experience homelessness, lack of health insurance, food insecurity, HIV and other STIs including MPOX, substance use and addiction, incarceration, and other risk factors in comparison to the general public. These Social Determinants of Health SDoH, as well as political and economic factors, continue to plague and oppress our community.

But we can do something about it! It is never too late to get vaccinated. Everyone should make sure they are fully boosted with the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots. The COVID-19 vaccine lowers your risk for severe complications including death and reduces your risk of long COVID and its severity. Additionally, the flu shot, which we usually get every Fall, helps us not miss work or school and also reduces the risk of spreading the flu within our communities. There are several other vaccines, especially new ones, that you should ask your doctor about: including RSV and shingles.
Remember, vaccines are designed to help you so you should not be afraid of them. There are no microchips or 5G technology in vaccines. Additionally, vaccines do not affect your fertility or ability to get pregnant. They do not interact with fillers or your hormone treatments. They do not affect the efficacy of our medications including PrEP. They do not hurt or harm us as we go thru puberty and are not linked to Autism. In fact, children who are fully vaccinated do better in school! Vaccines do not cause cancer or death.

Additionally, it is critically important that we protect each other including the people around us who are living with serious medical conditions including cancer, various autoimmune conditions, infections including HIV/AIDS, among others. This is called herd immunity. Like other communities, believe it or not, we age as well as other people and it’s important we protect our LGBTQIA+ aging individuals, especially as our immune system may not be as robust as when we are young!

Lastly, prioritizing vaccines isn’t just about safeguarding against diseases; it’s about empowering our LGBTQIA+ community to take charge of our health and become proactive in making sure we have all the tools and resources to help us stay safe, strong, and healthy! Each of us have a personal responsibility and role to play to protect ourselves and each other. By doing so you’re also contributing to improving public health and wellbeing for all. So let us work together to get our community fully vaccinated and protected so we can live our best, healthiest, longest, highest-quality LGBTQIA+ lives!

Remember, it is never too late to get vaccinated! Ask your doctor today about what vaccines are right for you and go get vaccinated! You can also inquire about vaccines at your local pharmacies.

Let’s all look out for each other and our colorful and vibrant community!
Dr. Jerry

Jerry P. Abraham, MD MPH CMQ, is a board-certified Family & Community Medicine Physician helping provide care to LGBTQIA+, including gender-affirming care, to People Experiencing Homelessness PEH, People Living With HIV/AIDS PLWH, People Who Inject Drugs PWID, People Living with Severe Mental Illness, People with Histories of Incarceration, People Who are Migrant Workers, among others at JWCH Wesley Health Centers on Skid Row and Kedren Community Health Center in South LA. For more information about vaccines, visit:

Come out and see the JWCH Street Medicine Team & Dr. Abraham in action at Tempo Nightclub Sunday nights from 6pm to 10pm every week. Get all your questions and LGBTQIA+ Health needs cared for!