Encouraging COVID-19 vaccines in communities of color (video)

UC Davis Health teams up with The California Endowment to give ‘the best gift’ on Mother’s Day

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(SACRAMENTO) — The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel approaches in the worldwide fight against COVID-19. Yet, significant barriers to herd immunity linger.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020, minority communities have suffered disproportionally from the virus. More than a year later, states with greater numbers of people of color received fewer doses of vaccines. The result: Black, Latino and other people of color are less likely to receive the vaccine than white people.

The latest CDC data shows that white people are 6 times more likely to have received at least one dose of the vaccine than Blacks and Latinos. Those same people of color are 87% less likely than white people to become fully vaccinated.

Getting out the word 

Multicultural PSAs reach out to communities of color through five languages.

Alarmed by the disparities, and supportive of COVID-19 vaccination equity and inclusion for vulnerable populations in the state, The California Endowment takes to the airwaves during the next few weeks to encourage minority communities to give the best gift this Mother’s Day—vaccination.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we knew that these communities were being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 at higher rates. And historically we know that communities of color are the last to receive resources and education when it comes to public health epidemics,” said Sarah Reyes, managing director of communications, The California Endowment. “That’s why it was important for us to create messaging that was inclusive of different communities and was in multiple languages, increasing our chances of engaging with folks who might not have received important COVID-19 information.”

The result is a series of public service announcements (PSAs) released around  Mother’s Day, which feature inclusive messaging for different communities in multiple languages. When it came time to film the PSAs, the endowment team reached out to UC Davis Health.

Representing for their communities

“We’ve seen a lot of death during this pandemic and disproportionately with people of color. All of them would have died alone if it weren’t for our courageous, smart and dedicated nurses who stayed with them,” explained Theresa Pak, a nurse manager and alumna of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. “As the facilitator for our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, I put out the request and more than enough people responded to the call.”

Pak gathered staff and their families from UC Davis Medical Center to star in the PSAs. The health system even offered space in Betty Irene Moore Hall on the Sacramento campus to create the final videos with Osmosis Films, the endowment’s content partner.

“I wanted UC Davis Health providers to participate in the PSAs because our COVID-19 stories are mirrored in the lives of those we care for,” said Arthur Hernandez, a transplant nurse at the hospital. “I believe health care leaders must use their earned and unearned privileges. Silence from health professionals on matters improving the health of vulnerable populations is harmful.”

Research suggests that people are more likely to get the vaccine when other members of their community have received it. The Washington Post conducted a survey experiment and found that “both white and Black Americans’ trust and confidence in the safety of coronavirus vaccines can be strengthened when they know that others in their community trust it. That especially matters for communities of color.”

Lift team manager Marcus Christian, right, along with his family, encourages communities of color to give the ‘best gift’ for Mother’s Day, the COVID-19 vaccine.

"We understand the deep-rooted concerns and trust issues that the African American community has with health care,” explained Marcus Christian, lift team manager at UC Davis Health and project participant. “I believe getting the vaccine is important because underserved communities are already at higher risk of poor health due to social conditions. Hopefully this PSA will build a little more trust with minorities."

Keeping families safe

Ultimately, the outreach aims to amplify public health messaging, while reaching communities of color who need access to important information and resources to help keep their families safe.

“We hope that folks will listen to our health professionals and those who have been fighting on the frontline for the last year, and it will inspire them to take the necessary steps to get vaccinated so we can get back to the things we love most,” Reyes said.