Despite nationwide efforts in providing COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults in the United States, the state of Alabama still lags behind national rates, with a large percentage of low vaccine rates coming from the 18 counties that comprise the Alabama Black Belt. The Alabama Black Belt is known for its rural communities and a large concentration of African Americans. The African American communities in this region experience many disparities, such as high rates of poverty, discrimination, limited educational attainment, and poor community health. In terms of the Black Belt region and African American community’s reaction to the COVID-19 vaccination, many are hesitant to receive the vaccination due to factors such as limited access to vaccinations in their local community, fear of cost, lack of knowledge, negative attitude toward vaccine, and historical discrimination in the healthcare system. As a response to the limited vaccine uptake and significant barriers to accessing the COVID-19 vaccination, the research team is implementing three activities that will (1) connect community members to nearby clinics and pharmacies with help from community health workers and create “Shot on the Spot” event, (2) provide vaccines via mobile truck in hard-to-reach rural areas to alleviate barriers to health care facilities for the COVID-19 vaccination, and (3) improve health literacy on COVID-19 vaccine using culturally competent social media campaign. Our project team aims to increase the COVID-19 vaccination rates from currently 30% to 70% in rural Black Belt areas by working with community partners and stakeholders. To achieve program objectives, partnerships will be forged between the University of Alabama (PI: Dr. Hee Yun Lee) and Rural Alabama Prevention Center (Community PI: Loretta Wilson, Founder and CEO) and community-based organizations (CBOs)such as churches, fire departments, and housing authorities. Through collaborations with CBOs and providing services in the targeted area with outreach efforts focusing on the targeted population, the program hopes to significantly increase the rate of vaccinated individuals and improve COVID-19 related health literacy.
For more information on this project please contact the PI, Dr. Hee Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.