Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is needed to ensure an end to the pandemic, including for those African American and other communities of color that have been hardest hit. However, a warranted mistrust or skepticism of the medical community – what some call the “Tuskegee effect” – may make many communities of color understandably wary of the new COVID-19 vaccines.

As trusted leaders in public health, The Center for Black Health & Equity and the American Lung Association have today announced the Better For It vaccine education toolkit, designed to equip community leaders to encourage informed conversations.

Made possible with support from Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., the partnership shares fact-based information in a culturally relevant guide for Black communities. This guide is designed to help trusted community leaders further conversations about COVID-19 vaccines and encourage people to decide for themselves after evaluating information.

The Better For It Toolkit addresses concerns many people in the Black community may have about the benefits and importance of immunizations. The toolkit is intended as supplemental research on the vaccines and to:

  • Start a dialogue with friends, physicians, pastors and family members.
  • Share accurate information on social media.
  • Get to know the contributions of African American scientists and public health advocates who are helping to bring this pandemic to an end.

“Too many Black people are suffering during this pandemic,” said Delmonte Jefferson, Executive Director for The Center for Black Health & Equity. “Our lives matter, and that’s why we’re partnering with the American Lung Association – to provide trusted information and clarity when you’re talking about the vaccine with family, your pastor or your barber. Education and awareness like this is a critical step toward health equity.”

Long-standing social and health inequities have resulted in COVID-19 hitting communities of color especially hard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to white people, Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Indigenous Peoples are more likely to contract, be hospitalized and die from COVID-19.

“The American Lung Association is proud to partner with The Center for Black Health & Equity to provide fact-based resources about COVID-19 vaccination and encourage informed conversations,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “We trust that people will determine what is best for themselves and their families, and want to ensure they have access to the best information when making these decisions.”

The American Lung Association and the Anthem Foundation have a long history of working together and a common goal of using lung health education, advocacy and research to aid in the equitable supply of, access to and demand for recommended respiratory vaccines (influenza, pneumonia, COVID-19), particularly in disproportionately affected communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had incredible consequences for individuals and families across the country – impacting mental, physical and financial health – and, for communities of color we know the impact is even greater,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer at Anthem, Inc. “The Anthem Foundation remains focused on doing all we can to ensure we are helping to provide educational information about the vaccine and encouraging this important dialogue. Our collaboration with the American Lung Association and The Center for Black Health & Equity is one more way we are working to improve the lives and health of communities and help build a better, more equitable and healthier America.”

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