KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Truman Medical Centers has been working to raise the COVID-19 vaccination rate since the vaccine came out, but health leaders are fighting some hesitancy.
Members of TMC's Community Health team conducted a walking tour of the 18th and Vine Jazz District on Tuesday to raise vaccine awareness and to learn why unvaccinated people won't get the shot.
"There are some people believe it or not, who don't even know about the delta variant in certain communities, so this is our job to educate them," said Hayat Abdullahi, senior director of community health strategies and innovation at Truman Medical Centers.
It's a mission Abdullahi's team has tackled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our main goal is to make sure that people have enough information, that is it – so they can make their own decision," Abdullahi told one resident.
With new cases on the rise in the Kansas City metro, there's even greater urgency to get more people vaccinated, according to Abdullahi.
"As the vaccine progress[es], as the virus progress[es], also, misinformation progress[es]," he said, "you know, so it's catching up with us. So we try to fight misinformation and myth all the time."
The Kaiser Family Foundation, which studied with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demographic data of vaccine distribution, reported that Black and Hispanic people have lower rates of getting inoculated. Of the Americans with at least one dose, only 16% are Hispanic and 9% are Black.
"I don't believe in putting a lot of different things in my body," one resident told Abdullahi. "I believe that viruses and most things can be healed with nature."
Besides sharing information, the team set up a vaccination station outside Joey Thomas' barbershop, 180V Barber Salon, where Fred Avery received his first dose.
"I was kind of on the fence about it, you know, kind of, you know, procrastinate and saying I was gonna get it and you know, just never got it," Avery said.
Finding the time is a common issue among the Hispanic community, according to TMC Community Health Education nurse Raquel Garcia, who said they're now bring their vaccination unit to job sites where there are 10-to-12-hour shifts.
"Wherever we have a space big enough to do registration and vaccines and we'll go anywhere to help them not have to take off work," Garcia said, "and then talking to the employer to make sure that they aren't going to take time away from them if they come and sit with us for the 20 minutes that it'll take for them to get the vaccine."
At the end of Tuesday's event, five people were vaccinated.
The team also handed out a flyer encouraging those who have questions about the vaccines to call at 816-404-3320 or email them at CHSI@tmcmed.org.