BALTIMORE, Md. — African-Americans have been hit hard by the Coronavirus, and many face challenges accessing healthcare and the vaccine.
Black healthcare workers nationwide are concerned about how COVID-19 has affected friends, family, and people in their own communities.
Several doctors, nurses, and researchers have joined together to create an effort to start a conversation within the black community to address questions and concerns about COVID-19 and the vaccines.
Public health advocate Dr. Rhea Boyd said “we've seen the data that says despite Black folks having the second highest mortality rate, that we now rank second to last in access to the COVID vaccines. And, we know that about a third of Black folks are still waiting to see.”
In a joint venture between the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Black Coalition Against COVID, Dr. Boyd co-developed a campaign to reach those who still have their doubts.
Called the “Conversation: Between us , About us,” it's designed to start a conversation by Black people, for Black people, to talk about everything COVID.
“We as healthcare providers are part of those same communities. And so, we just want to make sure that everybody has access, to have a conversation with a provider that they recognize, someone that they trust, so that when they hear the information, they can believe it,” Boyd said.
Back in October, the Kaiser Family Foundation did a survey of Black people, and asked participants, if given access to the vaccine, would they get one. At the time, nearly half said they would not, but another survey taken a few months later in February found attitudes might be changing with only about 20 percent now saying they wouldn't get a COVID shot.
“So, we see an increase in Black folks who are interested in getting the vaccine. What our campaign is targeted towards is, that one-third of Black folks who still say that they're waiting to see what happens with the vaccine before they get it, because that population has expressed really, common concerns” Boyd said.
Dr. Boyd called upon stand-up comedian and TV host W. Kamau Bell to lend a voice to the campaign.
In a campaign video, Bell said “we turn to people we can trust, but not just your uncle at the cookout, no, no, no, actually, not him at all. I’m talking about Black scientists, Black doctors, and Black nurses.”
“Kamau Bell was so wonderful at being able to provide a little bit of levity that we all have when we talk about this. It’s a serious situation but we also have questions that you know, we just want to hear a straight answer about” Boyd said.
Besides Bell, the “Conversation: Between us, About us” campaign is relying on a network of health care providers, public health systems, and employers, as well as social media to spread the message.
“We want to get this information in front of every single black person in this country, because we've heard they're are legitimate questions and concerns” Boyd said.
Videos and more information available at Conversation: Between us , About us