American Lung Association Encourages Informed Conversations on COVID-19 Vaccination with Better For It Vaccine Toolkits in Communities Hard HitVaccination rates in Wisconsin not enough to offer protection to those most vulnerable to the disease, including hard-hit communities of color
MILWAUKEE, WI | June 30, 2021
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 Wisconsin, COVID-19 vaccination rates overall remain at 53.5%, 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.
“We’re not going to truly beat COVID until we overcome vaccine hesitancy and get Wisconsin’s vaccine rate above 70 percent,” said Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin Medical Director Julie Mitchell, M.D. “That’s why we are focusing our efforts on communicating fact-based vaccination information through trusted local voices in every community. We’re excited to partner with The Center for Black Health & Equity, the League of United Latin Americans Citizens, and the American Lung Association to give those community voices the tools and information they need to help their communities.”
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 Wisconsin, the vaccination rates in these communities remain particularly low, with the Black community vaccination rate at only 4%.
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 Lung.org/vaccine-toolkit. 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 James Martinez, [email protected], or 312-445-2501.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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.
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