NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - There are new efforts underway to provide the COVID-19 vaccination to members of black communities in Davidson County.

Mayor John Cooper announced a citywide campaign to increase immunization rates in communities of color during the weekly Metro Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Thursday.

“This important initiative will reduce barriers to choosing and getting the vaccine and the barriers that many of our neighbors are facing,” Cooper said.

Mayor John Cooper and other officials provide an update on Nashville's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials said they are aware that some people in the Black communities don’t trust the vaccine. Some don’t have the resources to learn more about it. Metro officials said the aim to reassure the safety of vaccine and put a stop to myths.

“A myth that is currently circulating is that there is a better vaccine given to whites and a less effective vaccine given to blacks. That is not true," Dr. Joanna Shaw-KaiKai, Associated Medical Director, Communicable Disease Control Infectious Diseases specialist with Metro Public Health, said.  

Cooper said the city is launching a “grassroots effort” to go inside the communities of color to empower and educate them. Metro Health officials said they will be partnering with faith leaders.  

“We have work to do in communities of color,” Shaw-KaiKai said. “The plan includes mobile teams going into the communities to vaccinate, especially when we get into Phase1c.”

Metro Health officials will also have virtual town halls. The first is planned for February 18.

Mayor John Cooper is increasing efforts to provide the COVID-19 vaccination to members of communities of color in Davidson County.

Phase1c includes people with underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. This phase is expected to start sometime in March or April.

According to data, Blacks have experienced 31% of COVID-19 deaths in Davidson County. Cooper said that the number of Blacks who have received the vaccination more than doubled in the past week.

“In Nashville, about 18.4 percent of COVID-19 disease occurs in blacks, but blacks experience 31 percent of the deaths," Shaw-KaiKai said.

Nashville’s total COVID-19 case count continues to trend down in the past week, Cooper said. Nashville’s total case count is down 12% since last Thursday and the new cases per 100,000 people, currently 34.7, is down 20% since last week.

As for vaccinations, Cooper said the county has almost finished vaccinating those in Phase1a1. Those individuals age 70 and above will begin receiving vaccinations this weekend. Teachers and day care workers, those in Phase1b, will begin receiving vaccinations next week. 

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will provide the COVID vaccine for Metro Nashville Public Schools employees, which include charter school staff, and TriStar Health will provide the vaccinations to teachers and staff at independent and parochial schools. TriStar Health will also the effort to vaccinate preschool and daycare staff.


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