Influential Black leaders unite in new campaign to encourage minority community to get vaccinated

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Montgomery County ADAMHS is launching a new campaign to encourage minority communities to get vaccinated. Leaders at the organization hope it sparks an ongoing conversation about health care equity and accessibility. 

One of the organizers says people are continuously pushed online for coronavirus information. But not everyone has access, so they’re trying to deliver their message where people will see it. 

The new video is called “For Us”. It will be the first of many, and features a host of black leaders from different areas of influence. 

Helen Jones-Kelley is the executive director of ADAMHS. She says, “A lot is at stake, the health of the entire community is at stake.” 

Jones-Kelley is on the Ohio Department of Health’s Minority Planning Task Force, which works to encourage more communities of color to get the coronavirus vaccine. She says, “We have to have people ready to take the next step to be full participants in their health. And to be able to get access to the high quality of healthcare that we know is available.” 

Some of the community leaders in the video say social isolation is taking a toll, and people of color face disparities in access to health care. Democratic State Representative Willis Blackshear, Jr. of Dayton is trying to address some of those issues. He says, “One, they don’t know where to go to get the vaccine. So we need to make sure we are pushing that information out. And two, we need to make sure when we do have a place for people to get vaccinated, it’s accessible for everyone.” 

Representative Blackshear is trying to reach people and make a difference by making personal connections. He plans on getting the vaccine when he’s eligible, in part to reconnect with his isolated 94-year-old grandfather. 

And many other people are also trying to connect. Pastor Renard Allen of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church says, “One of the best ways to persuade people is to be an example of what you’re promoting.” Pastor Allen isn’t yet eligible for the vaccine, but knows he can still help, saying it’s about “Setting an example, and providing opportunities for not just education, but direct engagement with experts.” 

The campaign will continue with the goal to not just increase vaccination rates, but instill a larger confidence in the health care system. Jones-Kelley says, “The confidence aspect will be harder to measure, but to build a level of confidence that allows people of color to understand in our public health system is their system.” 

Helen Jones-Kelley wants people to call for help because she says getting information online may not be working for some people of color. But she says they don’t want to just refer people elsewhere, they want to connect with them and get them to appointments and to the vaccine sites. 

WATCH leaders of the campaign talk about addressing historic mistreatment of minority communities and the efforts to combat skepticism:

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