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Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH), the national nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering positive health behavior change through the power of science, culture and art, today announces Community Immunity: Teen Takeover, a new addition to its suite of COVID-19 educational resources.

With support from the CDC Foundation, Community Immunity: Teen Takeover taps into the power of young people as health advocates and trusted messengers to share a positive, educational and empowering message about youth vaccination and other actions that teens can take in the fight against COVID-19. The multimedia collection includes robust educator resources featuring two new animated music video PSAs with original lyrics written and performed by youth artists, alongside the original Community Immunity track recorded by HHPH Advisory Board Member and Grammy-winning artist Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of RUN-DMC.

HHPH is one of 30 organizations nationally to receive support from the CDC Foundation to harness the power of the arts to engage audiences and participants of all ages to build confidence in COVID-19 and flu vaccines. This project is part of HHPH’s “Community Immunity” vaccine literacy effort. Community Immunity: A Rap Anthology about Vaccines first debuted in February 2021, aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccine coverage in communities of color by fighting fear with facts. Amplified on HHPH’s digital platforms and shared across social media and in top tier media outlets, the campaign reached over 72 million people.

Community Immunity: Teen Takeover features verses written and recorded by Baltimore, Maryland, youth artists TayyBandz, Young Elder and Soul from HeartSmiles MD, in collaboration with multi-platinum producer Artie Green and accompanied by two animated music videos: a national version and a Baltimore remix. The remix is tailored to address COVID-19 vaccine disparities among youth and Black people in Baltimore, expanding on HHPH’s Voices on Vax partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Adolescent Health.

There are about 25 million young people ages 12-17 in the United States, and 58% of this age group has received the two-dose vaccine series, below the national rate of 65% and the second lowest vaccination rate of any age group.

“Lurking within these data are ongoing racial disparities in vaccination rates, hospitalization rates, and death rates. To combat these disparities, we must continue to engage all the components in the chain of COVID infection and vaccination – those related to social determinants of health, and those related to health literacy,” says Dr. Olajide Williams, Founder of Hip Hop Public Health, tenured Professor of Neurology at Columbia University, and Chief of Staff of the Department of Neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “With vaccination rates among young people lagging, and cities rolling back restrictions, it is critical to inspire the participation of our young people of color to help us keep our communities safe and healthy.”

In Baltimore, people under 20 have the lowest vaccination rate in the city and only 43.5% of Black people are fully vaccinated.

Community Immunity: Teen Takeover is about Baltimore and about teens in Baltimore – and everywhere – getting the vaccine and staying safe,” said rapper Young Elder.

“We’re trying to encourage youth and people all around Baltimore to get the vaccine and stay safe,” said rapper TayyBandz. “We’re using our talent to reinforce the message.”

Singer, songwriter and entrepreneur, Soul, said “COVID is on tour right now, there are new variants coming out and we need everyone to stay safe!” 

The collection also includes a free Educator Toolkit to help teachers explore this important topic in the classroom. The Toolkit provides teachers with easy-to-use guidance, lesson plans, classroom activities and family materials to thoughtfully and inclusively teach about how vaccines work and to explore the role that young people play in the fight against COVID-19.

“Educators and families play a key role in helping young people navigate complex issues related to the pandemic and vaccination. Although each one of us has been impacted by COVID, our experiences are unique and it can be tricky to explore these topics,” said Lori Rose Benson, Executive Director and CEO of Hip Hop Public Health. “By partnering with youth artists who use their talent and influence to promote vaccine literacy through music, and by sharing materials for educators to use Community Immunity as a starting point for health literacy lessons, we aim to help young people develop both the knowledge and the skills to make informed choices and to talk with their families and peers about vaccination and other actions they can take to care for their communities.”

The Community Immunity: Teen Takeover campaign will be widely distributed on social media and it will feature a virtual event on Thursday, March 31 from 7-8 pm EST on YouTube with TayyBandz, Soul, and Young Elder interviewing Dr. Williams and producer Artie Green about the importance of vaccination and the power of music to inspire positive health behavior. HHPH will offer a free live, virtual training on the Community Immunity Educator Toolkit on Wednesday, May 4 from 7-8:30pm EST. The Community Immunity: Teen Takeover music videos, songs, Educator Toolkit, and information about the upcoming events are all available on https://hhph.org/communityimmunity-teentakeover/

Funding for this effort is made possible through a subaward from the CDC Foundation and is part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) financial assistance award totaling $2,500,000.00 with 100 percent funding from CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government. 

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