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Communication about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, coupled with local access to vaccination sites, can significantly reduce vaccine hesitancy among communities of color, new research by North Carolina Central University shows.

Researchers at the Durham institution have been working with state health officials to develop an effective communications strategy to vaccinate historically marginalized populations.

As a result, more Black, Latino and Native American residents now indicate a willingness to be vaccinated, according to state officials.

Since August 2020, North Carolina Central have surveyed more than 1,500 people, mostly from historically marginalized populations, to gauge their attitudes about Covid-19 and vaccinations. The surveys were conducted before and after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a coronavirus vaccination.

Overall, 62% now say they are willing to take the vaccine. That compares to 26.7% who expressed a willingness in August-October of 2020.

“These results are encouraging and show that awareness campaigns and educational outreach are working and need to continue,” said Deepak Kumar, director of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute  at N.C. Central and founder of the school’s Advanced Center for COVID-19 Related Disparities (ACCORD).

Since last summer, ACCORD has provided more than 50 testing events in underserved communities, resulting in Covid-19 tests for 3,500 people.

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