American Lung Association Encourages Informed Conversations on COVID-19 Vaccination with Better For It Vaccine Toolkits in Communities Hard Hit

Vaccination rates in New York State not enough to offer protection to those most vulnerable to the disease, including hard-hit communities of color

Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is needed in every community to ensure an end to the pandemic, especially for hard-hit communities of color. In New York, COVID-19 vaccination rates (with both doses) overall remain at 53.7.% of the total population (and 65.1% of the 18+ population), which is not enough to ensure those most vulnerable to COVID-19 are offered protection. To encourage informed conversations about vaccination, the American Lung Association is offering fact-based information through the Better For It Vaccine Toolkits

Made possible with support from Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., the partnership shares fact-based information in a culturally relevant guide for not only the general population but also those communities disproportionately impacted - Black, Latino or Indigenous populations. These guides are designed to help trusted community leaders further conversations about COVID-19 vaccines and encourage people to decide for themselves after evaluating the information. 

“As part of our mission to materially and measurably improve the health of all New Yorkers, we are committed to working with providers and our members to reduce barriers to getting vaccinated,” said Dr. David Ackman, Medicaid Medical Director, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Anthem’s affiliated health plan in New York. “In addition to efforts with New York City to reach our homebound members and arranging for vaccination at health department sites, we are working with the American Lung Association on vaccine toolkits to broaden our reach even further. After a year of a living under the cloud of COVID-19, vaccines are widely available and we are encouraging all of our members to get vaccinated.”

“The American Lung Association is proud to serve as the nation’s trusted resource for lung health, and we want to ensure that we help everyone get the fact-based information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” said Trevor Summerfield, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in New York. “Whether dispelling misinformation, addressing skepticism about the vaccine and the medical community or overcoming language barriers, we’re here to ensure everyone can get the trusted information they need to keep them safe.”

Dr. Ellen Grant, the Deputy Mayor of the City of Buffalo, and member of the American Lung Association’s local Leadership Board said, "We know that the safest and quickest way to put COVID-19 behind us is to get everyone vaccinated. Here in Buffalo, we are pleased to work with our partners at the Lung Association to continue to ensure that fact-based information is widely available, and that those most at risk for COVID-19, including our local communities of color, have access to accurate and relevant resources. We're grateful for these new educational tool kits that will help more City residents, as well as those across New York State, make the right decision for themselves and their families." Grant previously worked as a Registered Nurse. 

Long-standing social and health inequities have resulted in COVID-19 hitting communities of color especially hard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to white people, Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Indigenous Peoples are more likely to contract, be hospitalized and die from COVID-19. In New York the vaccination rates in Black communities remain particularly low, with Blacks (aged 15+) accounting for about 17% of people in the state, but only 12% of those having received at least one vaccine dose.

Vaccine toolkits available online through the partnership include:

  • The Better For It Toolkit for the Black community addresses concerns that many people in the community may have about the benefits and importance of immunizations as a result of a warranted mistrust or skepticism of the medical community – often referred to as the "Tuskegee effect.” This toolkit was developed in partnership with The Center for Black Health & Equity and is designed to equip trusted community leaders to encourage informed conversations. 
  • The Better For It Toolkit for the Latino community was developed in partnership with the League of United Latin Americans Citizens and is available in Spanish to help address the language barrier faced by many in the community. The toolkit addresses many concerns for families in this hard-hit community, including legitimate concerns on immigration status regarding vaccination. 
  • The Better For It Toolkit for the American Indian, Alaska Native and Indigenous populations was developed in partnership with members of the American Indian community and shares the resiliency of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout the pandemic and how they are supporting efforts to end COVID-19.
  • The Better For It Toolkit for the general population provides a wide-reaching resource that can be shared across communities and highlights many of the messages included in other toolkits without targeting a specific disproportionately affected group. 

The American Lung Association and the Anthem Foundation have a long history of working together, and with a common goal of incorporating lung health education, advocacy and research to aid in the equitable supply of, access to and demand for recommended respiratory vaccines (influenza, pneumonia, COVID-19), particularly in disproportionately affected communities. 

For more information about the development of the toolkit and outreach through the partnership, visit To schedule a media interview with a medical or public health expert about COVID-19 vaccination and the impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, contact Jennifer Solomon at [email protected] or 516-680-8927. 


About The Center for Black Health & Equity
The Center for Black Health & Equity (formerly NAATPN, Inc.) is a national nonprofit organization that facilitates public health programs and services that benefit communities and people of African descent. The Center is committed to addressing social, political and economic injustices that have marginalized communities and contributed to current health disparities.  The Center provides a level of expert comment, research, and education that has resulted in cities and institutions adopting smoke-free policies and flavor restrictions. Currently, the organization applies its proven framework for policy and environmental change to work in HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart, diabetes, COVID-19 and other health disparities.

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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