President Joe Biden announced plans Wednesday to recruit 1,000 Black-owned barbershops and hair salons to promote the nationwide vaccination effort.
The effort, called Shots at the Shop, is a collaboration between the Biden administration, the Black Coalition Against COVID, the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, and SheaMoisture. The group will reach out to local barbershops and salons to support the local vaccine education and outreach efforts and provide vaccination shots onsite.
The plan comes less than a month after public health practitioners and researchers joined together with 10 Maryland-area salons and barbershops to create health and wellness hubs to fight the pandemic and dispel rumors and myths about the vaccine.
Stephen Thomas, the director for the Center of Health Equity, told USA Today the effort is a blessing.
“This big push to recognize the barbershops and beauty salons in Black and brown communities as assets to be mobilized is just a blessing,” Thomas said. “I could not be more excited and ecstatic.”
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced as of May 25 that 56% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In that group, 62% of recipients are White Americans, 14% are Hispanic, 9% are Black, 6% are Asian, 1% are American Indian or Alaska Native.
Black Americans were the most likely to get sick and die from COVID-19 early in the pandemic due to decades of institutional racism in the health and food industries. Environmental factors such as where Black Americans’ live and the amount of pollution and lack of air quality in their neighborhoods also contributed.
In the announcement, Biden said this summer will be one of enjoying the weather and the outdoors. Getting vaccinated is a way to ensure Americans are being safe while enjoying eating and drinking outside, camping, hiking, beach-going, and participating in other activities.
“America is heading into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer,” Biden said in a statement. “A summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations, an all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long. dark winter that we’ve all endured.”