Dr. Chris Pernell called on public health officials to partner with churches, barbershops, hairdressers and other trusted members of Black and Brown communities in order to provide more equitable distribution of COVID vaccines.
March 14, 2021

Dr. Pernell, a public health physician, was asked by MSNBC host Tiffany Cross what the biggest misconception or biggest challenge is for administering vaccines in communities of color.

It’s a question Dr. Pernell has obviously given a lot of thought to.

PERNELL: Let’s start with vaccines don't save lives, vaccinations save lives. And if we understand that vaccinations save lives, I just don't think we've been as innovative and that we've partnered as effectively as we should in those communities of color that have been disproportionately hit.

What do I mean? Are we using community health workers? Are we having partnerships with churches? Are we having partnerships with barbershops, with hairdressers?

We have J&J which is a more mobile vaccine. Are we doing mobile vans? Are we asking communities who are those trusted messengers?

The only concern I have is when we hear about troops being activated, we hear about retired health care workers being activated, we want to ensure that the communities that they're being activated for are communities that trust those personnel coming in. We don't want to dissuade or discourage people in any way from wanting to get a vaccine. ...

I think the issue more is access. Yes, Black folk occupy the wait-and-see category, higher than others. But we aren’t fixed. It just means we have specific informational needs and when those informational needs are met, we have to make sure those community barriers are eliminated, those language and literacy barriers are eliminated. And that's what I'm looking to see happen.

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