NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced that Metro is starting a city-wide campaign to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccinations in communities of color.
Cooper announced the initiative Thursday during the city’s COVID update, saying it will “reduce barriers to choosing and getting the vaccine.” The mayor said some of those barriers include transportation, the digital divide and access to accurate, update-to-date vaccine information.
As part of the campaign, Metro will be holding virtual town halls, on-site immunization drives and “other safe public events.”
Cooper said the vaccination rate in the Black community has more than doubled since the vaccine rollout began. He said the vaccination rate in the Hispanic community has grown by 10 times.
“Immunizations among residents hit hardest by the pandemic is growing, but it has to continue trending up,” Cooper said. He said Metro will work with faith and community leaders across Nashville to get the word out.
"Our mission is to educate, to empower and build trust among people of color in our communities as it relates to the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination," Deputy Mayor Brenda Haywood said.
Dr. Joanna Shaw-KaiKai, the associate medical director for the Metro Public Health Department, said they’re working to educate the community at the grassroots level and also to clear up misinformation about the vaccines.
“One of the myths that is currently circulating is that there is a better vaccine given to whites and a less effective vaccine given to Blacks. That is not true. Everyone receives the same vaccine regardless of race, color or ethnicity,” she said.
Dr. Shaw-KaiKai said in Nashville, about 18.4% of COVID-19 disease occurs in the Black community. However, she said the Black community has experienced about 31% of the deaths that have occurred.
She said their plan also includes mobile vaccination teams going out into communities, and that will be especially important once Metro enters Phase 1c, which includes those with underlying heath conditions. Dr. Shaw-KaiKai said the plan “will be adjusted as needed.”