Kaiser Permanente helps local groups working to get minorities vaccinated

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Rural communities and minorities across the Central Valley struggled when it came to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I realized there was definitely a gap in the way our institutions were addressing some of the health disparities," says Shantay Davies-Balch with the African American Coalition

Davies-Balch formed the African American Coalition in August of 2020 with the mission of helping minorities get accurate information about the pandemic and access to a vaccine.

She says their efforts have come a long way.

"I am extremely proud to say that with the African American Coalition, of those 8,000 vaccines that we administered, 38% were administered to folks in the Black community," she said.

In May, the coalition, along with five other local groups, received a helping hand from Kaiser Permanente, investing more than $450,000 in supporting their COVID-19 efforts.

"With Kaiser's support, we have been able to expand our ability to do pop-ups," Davies-Balch said.

Dr. Atif Collins says supporting local groups is how all communities will have a fair shot of getting their vaccine and says local efforts are the reason vaccination rates among minorities have risen.

"I am really excited because we have seen those gaps close," he said.

But even with vaccines available, Davies-Balch says the biggest challenge they face is hesitancy.

"We are now really focused on addressing fears and myths," she said.

She says with Kaiser's support, they will continue educating and supporting people with all things COVID.
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