Black Kentuckians who are hesitant about getting a Covid-19 vaccine often have the same questions as their white counterparts. But many have additional concerns that may emanate from their experiences with racism in the health care system and a history in America of unethical medical experiments on Black populations.
I Got The Shot to Protect the Ones I Love is the theme of a new public service campaign that features Black Kentuckians naming and responding to several of these concerns, with the ultimate goal of increasing confidence in the vaccine, as well as Kentucky vaccination rates.
“I thought the vaccine happened too quickly, and I wondered how that could be trusted,” said Debra Brown, a Covid-19 investigator who appears in the campaign. “But then, I realized that this type of vaccine had been researched for years. It was tested on tens of thousands of people, including Black and Brown people, and they did not skip any steps in the approval process. I figured I was more scared of Covid, not the vaccine. I don’t want to get really sick. That’s when I knew, if I get the vaccine, I can help prevent that. So, I got the shot.”
Two other Kentuckians add their voices as well: Tom Bell, an insurance agent from Hopkinsville, and Bobbie Lester a Louisville school nurse, both emphasized protecting loved ones from serious illness
As people of color, we are getting sick – and we’re dying more than others,” Bell said. “Covid has touched people close to me, near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen them put on ventilators. I know people who have coded three times. I take it very seriously.”
“I took the shot to protect my grandbabies, my students, and my family … and I felt fine. I hope my family and friends will do the same to protect me,” Lester said.
The I Got The Shot campaign was launched today by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA). Campaign digital assets include two videos and accompanying graphics that will run on Facebook, Instagram and iHeart Media in three Kentucky markets that are home to a high proportion of Black residents – Hopkinsville, Lexington and Louisville. The Foundation and KNA also are working with community leaders throughout Kentucky to share the campaign materials with as many organizations as possible. All materials are available to organizations free of charge.
Getting the vaccine helps us protect our families, our friends, and our communities from the virus, and that’s critical to getting back to our lives in Kentucky,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation. “But if, in your experience, medical care hasn’t always proven to be helpful to you and your loved ones, you’re naturally going to have concerns about these vaccines. Health advocates can’t just brush these concerns aside. People need answers. The spokespersons in this campaign are trusted messengers in their communities who are helping to provide those answers.”
“It’s okay to have questions; I sure did,” Lester said. “I found my answers. The vaccine will help prevent you from getting seriously sick. There is no live virus in this vaccine – so you can’t catch Covid from it. The side effects are minimal…..or you might be down for a day. But it will keep you out of the hospital. It will keep you alive.”
“The Kentucky Nurses Association is proud to partner on this campaign with the Foundation, which listened with an open heart and mind to the concerns of Black Kentuckians,” said Delanor Manson, MA, BSN, RN, CEO of KNA. “Our hope is that additional nurses and community leaders throughout the Commonwealth will share campaign materials and add their own expert testimonials about the importance of protecting ourselves and the ones we love by getting vaccinated.”
“We all know there’s a history of racism in medical circles when it comes to people of color,” Bell said. “But … a person of color – Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett– was one of the lead researchers in developing the vaccine? When I was in the military, I was jumping out of airplanes and it scared me. But, I did it. I had confidence in my equipment. I took the vaccine and that wasn’t scary at all.”
The Foundation and KNA worked with an advisory committee of Black community leaders, including Foundation Board Chair Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, MPH, to develop the I Got The Shot campaign.
“In stopping this pandemic we have to use all the tools we have available,” said Lasley-Bibbs, who also is director of the Kentucky Department for Public Health Office of Health Equity. “The vaccine is one of those tools. I got the shot to protect the ones I love because I cherish my circle of family and friends, but I want those same people to think of how they can best protect me and that’s by getting the vaccine.”
I Got The Shot campaign materials are available for download and use, free of charge, here: I Got The Shot PSA Toolkit. They include the video testimonials, social media graphics (including a Facebook frame), a suggested newsletter article, and a Facts and Resources document about the campaign. Organizations that would like to use these materials and add their own logos may reach out to Alexa Kerley at firstname.lastname@example.org.