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The Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP Calls for a Comprehensive and Equitable Approach to Vaccine Access in the Black Community

Solution: Branch Leaders Recommend Four-Point Plan

The Sars-CoV-2 pandemic has taken a deep toll on the Black community in Miami-Dade County. Now that vaccines are becoming available across the country, one would think that with this stark reality and knowledge of the continued disparities in healthcare for Black Americans, and Black Miamians specifically, a great deal of effort would be taken to ensure that Black Miamians, especially those who are 65 and older, have access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

However, this has not been the case.

According to a recent report from the Miami Herald, of the 138,000 of the Miami-Dade residents who have been vaccinated, only 6% (8,265) were African Americans. Black Miamians make up about 16.7% of the Miami-Dade County population.

Obviously, equity is a problem, and though Mayor Levine-Cava’s mandates provide broad guidelines, the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP is very concerned that they do not go far enough. Therefore, more actionable approaches (and the necessary human and funding resources they require) are needed to expand access to vaccinations in and throughout the Black community.

As a solution, we recommend the following four-point plan:

1.   Engage.

County officials must engage the Black community about the safety and efficacy of the Sars-CoV-2 vaccine, using culturally-appropriate methods, which include being transparent about cases where the vaccinated might have experienced side-effects. This Engagement needs to happen at the entrances of supermarkets, corner stores, pharmacies; in the foyers of houses of worship, barber shops, hair & nail salons, MetroRail Stations and transit centers, senior centers, restaurants, etc. While virtual engagement is one of the fastest ways to engage the Black population, for our elderly, it is not always the most effective.

2.   Educate.

Once we have engaged the community, we need to, then, arm them with trusted, clear and precise information that is based on science (not hearsay) that is broken down into smaller parts that are easily explainable by non-scientists and non-medical experts.

3.   Vaccinate.

·       Provide mobile vaccination in targeted zip codes throughout the county, and particularly the ‘urban core’.

·       Provide vaccination sites in grocery stores, gas stations, church foyers/banquet halls, nail salons, barbershops, laundromats, transit centers/Metrorail stations, places of employment, nursing homes, department stores, etc.

·       It is imperative that vaccination sites have knowledgeable and culturally-trained staff on site to provide guidance and sound information to the vaccinated.

4.   Monitor/Follow-Up.

·       It is important that part of access to vaccination is information on how the vaccinated should monitor potential side-effects and who or where to report if side-effects are realized. Additionally, it should be made clear to the vaccinated what the next steps are for them to stay safe.

·       The branch recommends that county officials expand the established Community Empowerment Program to increase hours of operations to weekends and to include information on what happens after vaccination.

In conclusion, the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP understands that these are unprecedented times; therefore, we believe it is important that county officials consult with the people on the ground to ensure an equitable vaccination program.

In unity and service,

Daniella Pierre

President

Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP

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