Vaccine education truck driving around Baltimore to address inequity, hesitancy

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Posted at 4:13 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 19:13:07-04

BALTIMORE — While COVID-19 cases and deaths decrease, the threat continues as only 44 percent of Baltimore residents are vaccinated.

So the Maryland Department of Health is redeploying a mobile education unit – known as a “sound truck” – to help increase vaccination rates in specific Baltimore communities.

Unlike other resources, it’s not a mobile vaccine clinic. Instead it’s a mobile message, blasting out vaccine information through the streets of Baltimore’s vulnerable communities.

Outfitted with informational banners, the truck will broadcast prevention practices and vaccine messages in English and Spanish

The truck, owned and operated by the Baltimore branch of the NAACP will be driving around 5 zip codes with high case rates and low vaccination numbers. The truck’s daily route will include stops in Sandtown-Winchester, Pigtown, Gwynns Falls, and Penn North.

The goal is to address continued vaccine inequity and hesitancy due to historical mistrust and misinformation.

"Although there are a greater number of people vaccinated in Baltimore, the representation shows disparity," said Rev. Kobi Little. Baltimore NAACP President.

According to Baltimore City data, 46 percent of white residents are fully vaccinated, compared to only 24 percent of black residents, which make up the majority of the city’s population.

"We are doing our part of get the information out, to give it out in a way that it doesn’t seem like we are forcing people to get the vaccine, but to give it out in a way that we are truly educating everyone on the benefits and to let everyone know that this is the only thing that will stop the pandemic," said Ashiah Parker, Chief Executive Officer of No Boundaries Coalition.

Dr. Mark Martin, deputy director of MDH's Office of Minority Health and health Disparities said this truck was effective last fall during their campaign for testing and contact tracing and he's confident it will reach thousands again.

"You can see people on the street but all the people behind the walls that are hearing the message, you can't even count that," said Martin.

The truck will be out through Memorial Day weekend.