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

Vaccination rates in Virginia 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 Virginia, COVID-19 fully vaccinated rates overall remain at 50.5% of the total population; and 70.9% of adult (18+) population with at least one dose, 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. 

“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 American Lung Association Director of Advocacy, Virginia, Aleks Casper.  “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.”

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 Virginia, the vaccination rates in Black communities remain particularly low, with the vaccination distribution rate of at least one dose at only 23.9%.

“Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is proud to partner with the American Lung Association to help ensure Virginians have access to important, fact-based information to help them make the best decision possible when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said John Michos, M.D., director, Medical Operations, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. ”We hope these guides will prove to be a valuable, trusted resource that will help address skepticism and dispel myths for Virginians who may have concerns about the safety the vaccine.”

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 Val Gleason at [email protected] or 717-971-1123.. 

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
[email protected]

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