The past two years have been turbulent to say the least! The disturbing trifecta of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and the country’s disturbing racial issues has had and continue to have a traumatic impact on Black communities. Our communities have been shattered by the lack of access to critical services that support health and wellness, affecting the most basic human needs for health, food jobs, security, and safe shelter. Additionally, the layering effects of the CDC COVID-19 quarantine guidelines have exacerbated stress levels and added to the sense of hopelessness and despair. To make matters worse, the prevalence of the impact of the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) is staggering, which has contributed to lower life expectancy, quality of life, and higher health care costs and illustrates the effect of economic, environmental, and social conditions on health outcomes. More than medical interventions are needed to address these significant health inequities towards equity. GSP believes that left unaddressed, these cumulative factors will continue to have a chaotic impact on the health and survivability of our communities, and we must address the challenges of access to resources and create opportunities to ensure proposed interventions are community-designed and driven.
Our “It Takes a Village” mission is grounded in the unique culture and reality-based outreach to address the trials, tribulations, and struggles with the attitudes and hesitancy of the vaccine in Black communities, due to the problematic history of health-related inequities, misconceptions, and the emotions behind the concerns about the vaccine. These core beliefs are the main factors contributing to the attitudes and hesitancy about the vaccine, so to get the conversation started, and open the door to begin the healing process, GSP is honored to work side-by-side with NCCF/BPHN and our community partners to introduce the following tools and resources needed to help residents build understanding, trust and vaccination success:
1. Introduce the community to The Black Physician and Healthcare Network (BPHN), and their vaccine sites/dates/times.
2. Increase vaccination rates with vaccine-hesitant residents and reduce the spread of the virus in families/communities.
3. Organize, plan and expand the vax/hesitancy outreach efforts to reach 10,000 residents.
4. Use promotion and prevention efforts and communications methods (e.g., flyers, posters, WhatsApp, Social Media Platforms, Podcast, PSAs) to reach students, young adults, adults, and seniors to engage, promote healing through messaging, raise awareness in the community to debunk the misinformation/reduce the stigma associated with the vaccine, and provide accurate information about the vaccination, respond to questions and concerns.
5. Reduce barriers and encourage Black communities to embrace and/or feel at ease about receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and support residents with scheduling vaccine appt.
6. Increase level of convenience – go directly to the communities (e.g., hair salons, barber shops, metro stops, grocery stores, pharmacies, black-owned businesses, senior centers, apartments, gyms) through our “Boots on the Ground” and door-to-door canvassing to reach resident.
7. Host/piggyback on existing community culturally appropriate outreach events with access to doctors on-site to answer questions directly about the vaccine, Community partners provide wrap-around services/referrals to help connect residents with resources/services and offer fun activities (e.g., games, snow cone truck, food/drinks, prizes, entertainment) to engage the community, gain community buy-in, foster community spirit.
8. Assist in the registration for vaccinations/testing.
9. Build community trust – “the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact.” Her name is Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D. Dr. Corbett is among the National Institute of Health scientists who worked directly to develop and produce the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination.