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Parkland Hospital System Tackles COVID-19 Vaccine Reluctance in Minority Communities

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DALLAS (UKTN) – Parkland Health and Hospital System is working to tackle the problem of vaccine reluctance in minority communities.

It uses a combination of technology and old-fashioned word of mouth.

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“We knew the disparities existed before the pandemic,” said Senior Vice President of Communications and External Affairs Mike Malaise.

His team had already started working on a plan to address the disparities in 2019. When the pandemic hit, they knew they would have to step up their efforts. They turned to well-known faces that different communities could relate to.

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“Your neighbors, your religious leaders, people who are part of their generational families who have lived in communities for years, people involved in activism, people in these local businesses,” said Angela Morris, senior director of community relations. “We are counting on them all.”

“Once we identify someone, we basically talk with them, find out what was their reason for receiving the COVID vaccine and why they are encouraging their community to get the vaccine,” said Brenda Rodriguez, media specialist .

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The people, however, were only part of the plan. The team also needed to know where to target their efforts.

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This is where the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation comes in.

Data scientists can identify the most risky postal codes.

“In the beginning the awareness was really focused on the test sites,” said Steve Miff, CEO of PCCI. His team worked to determine where to place the physical locations for the awareness and testing sites.

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“Today we are focusing on vaccinations, not only where, but also to understand where the people who have not been registered, who have not received the vaccine are,” he said.

The hard work seems to pay off. The team said when vaccinations began in January, black and Hispanic populations were under-represented.

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Now the numbers are more relevant with the population of Dallas County.

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