Atrium Health launches Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Black and minority communities

At a kick-off last week, the health care company vaccinated 299 people during a drive-thru event at First Baptist Church-West.

To remove barriers and ease hesitancy surrounding Covid-19 vaccinations in Black and minority neighborhoods, Atrium Health last week kicked off a campaign it’s calling “Community Immunity For All.”

Working with churches and community groups, the campaign will include drive-thru and walk-up vaccination events. It’s first such event was held Thursday at First Baptist Church-West, where appointments were not required. 

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Black and Hispanic people are 2.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 versus other races. The CDC also reports that Black people are 1.4 times, and Hispanic people are 1.7 times, more likely to contract Covid-19, which is caused by the coronavirus.  

“We have all witnessed firsthand the suffering that has occurred in vulnerable communities that don’t have access to life-saving care. And our message is quite simple and clear – we see you, and we are here for you,” Eugene A. Woods, Atrium Health’s president and CEO, said in a statement. 

Atrium Health vaccinated 299 people during the six-hour event at First Baptist Church-West, Kinneil Coltman, a senior vice president and chief community and external affairs officer at Atrium Health, told reporters on Friday.

Photo: Atrium Health
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Other community partners include: C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church, Rockwell AME Zion Church, Latino Faith and Health Coalition, Forest Hill Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Iglesia Bautista Camino de Salvación, St. Andrews United Methodist Church, El Buen Samaritano, First Baptist Church in Huntersville, Iglesia Cristiana Puerto Nuevo, ourBRIDGE for KIDS, Negocios Hispanos de Charlotte and the Latin American Coalition. 

Coltman said Atrium Health will continue its vaccination programs in minority communities for as long as need dictates. To prevent overcrowding and long lines, Atrium has not released a schedule for future vaccination events under the initiative. 

“We will announce it in enough time so the community that we’re advertising to will be able to get ready and make plans,” Coltman said. “We will try to get that out several days in advance.”

Although Atrium is focusing for now on people age 65 and older, in accordance with state guidelines, Coltman said the health care company eventually will shift its messaging to encourage younger people to get vaccinations. National surveys have shown that racial minorities tend to be more distrustful of the vaccines and the medical community in general.

To address that reluctance, Coltman said Atrium will dispatch medical experts to radio stations and media outlets to answer questions and hear community concerns. One such event, a virtual town hall, is scheduled for February 4, starting at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to its initiatives in Black and minority communities, Atrium also is hosting mass vaccination events elsewhere in Mecklenburg County. It has announced a goal to vaccinate 1 million people by the Fourth of July.

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