Communities of color especially hard hit
By JANELLE HOM
Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is needed in every community to ensure an end to the pandemic, especially for hard-hit communities of color. Here in Florida, COVID-19 vaccination rates overall remain at 52.5 percent (people with at least one dose as of June 21), which is not enough to ensure those most vulnerable to COVID-19 are offered protection. To encourage informed conversations about vaccination, the American Lung Association is offering fact-based information through the · Better For It Vaccine Toolkits.
Made possible with support from Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., the partnership shares fact-based information in a culturally relevant guide for not only the general population but also those communities disproportionately impacted - Black, Latino or Indigenous populations. These guides are designed to help trusted community leaders further conversations about COVID-19 vaccines and encourage people to decide for themselves after evaluating the information.
Long-standing social and health inequities have resulted in COVID-19 hitting communities of color especially hard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to white people, Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Indigenous Peoples are more likely to contract, be hospitalized and die from COVID-19. In Florida, the vaccination rates in these communities remain particularly low, with the Black community vaccination rate at only 8 percent and the Hispanic community vaccination rate at 28 percent (received at least one dose as of June 21).
Vaccine toolkits available online through the partnership include: · The Better For It Toolkit for the Black community addresses concerns that many people in the community may have about the benefits and importance of immunizations as a result of a warranted mistrust or skepticism of the medical community – often referred to as the "Tuskegee effect.” This toolkit was developed in partnership with The Center for Black Health & Equity and is designed to equip trusted community leaders to encourage informed conversations. · The Better For It Toolkit for the Latino community was developed in partnership with the League of United Latin Americans Citizens and is available in Spanish to help address the language barrier faced by many in the community. The toolkit addresses many concerns for families in this hard-hit community, including legitimate concerns on immigration status regarding vaccination. · The Better For It Toolkit for the American Indian, Alaska Native and Indigenous populations was developed in partnership with members of the American Indian community and shares the resiliency of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout the pandemic and how they are supporting efforts to end COVID-19. · The Better For It Toolkit for the general population provides a wide-reaching resource that can be shared across communities and highlights many of the messages included in other toolkits without targeting a specific disproportionately affected group.
The American Lung Association and the Anthem Foundation have a long history of working together, and with a common goal of incorporating lung health education, advocacy and research to aid in the equitable supply of, access to and demand for recommended respiratory vaccines (influenza, pneumonia, COVID-19), particularly in disproportionately affected communities.
For more information, visit Lung.org/vaccine-toolkit
Janelle Hom, is Executive Director, American Lung Association in Florida.