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Health organizations educate communities about COVID vaccine

Not everyone eligible to receive the COVID vaccine is willing to take it.

WEST MICHIGAN - As the COVID vaccine reaches more populations, health experts face the challenge of convincing people to take it. And with so much misinformation in different places including on social media, officials know there is a need to educate communities in order to calm vaccine fears.

The Ottawa County Health Department says it is working with human services organizations as well as faith-based groups and religious organizations to promote the COVID vaccine.

"We have fantastic partners who are geared up and ready to keep promoting the vaccine," says Kristina Wieghmink. "We have so many people in those agencies eager to get the vaccine and also to share with their communities or congregation members, whoever is able to help spread that positive message."

Spectrum Health says they are sending physicians into many different areas to reach people where they are, including on social media.

"Right now we know that a big part of how we get our information is through social media its been our biggest blessing and our biggest curse," says Dr. TaLawnda Bragg. "It's really important for us to try to get into those communities that have been heavily affected by COVID-19, the African American communities the Latino communities. It's important to speak the language and to utilize your influence in the community."

ABC News reports that barbershops in black communities in Baltimore, provide information about the COVID vaccine, with the help of a company called Live Chair Health

"Traditionally and historically with an African American community, the barbershop has been the epicenter of everything from politics to sports," says Baltimore based barbershop manager Kennard Perry.  

Dr. Ron Grifka of Metro Health thinks the access to clients in hair salons and barbershops is a great way to connect with members of the community. 

"I think it's a great idea because as opposed to a convenient store where you pop in and out for 30 to 40 seconds, at the salon or the barbershop you're there 10 or 15 minutes and you've got a relationship with that person." 

The NAACP invited Dr. Grifka to present to their audience. In speaking to the older populations, he equates the COVID vaccine to the polio vaccine.  

"I just remind people that were fortunate to not see as many cases of polio. The polio vaccine cured it, it's a miserable disease, its terrible. This COVID vaccine can do the same thing."

Despite some uncertainty, West Michigan health officials say the majority of people want to get the vaccine. They ask for everyone to be patient in registering to get the vaccine as it becomes available to more people.

For a step-by-step guide to register to get a vaccine at Spectrum Health, click here.

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