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Posts Tagged ‘Covid shot’

Today’s story reminds me of an old-time jingle my father used to sing: “Shave and a haircut: Two bits!” But the article says that instead of getting a shave with your haircut for only a quarter (two bits), you can now get a Covid shot. And maybe a fried fish sandwich.

Lena H. Sun has the story at the Washington Post. “Reginald Alston never expected to get a coronavirus vaccine and never expected anyone would change his mind about it.

“But his best friend, a hair salon owner, kept telling him he was being shortsighted and maybe even a little bit selfish. What about his niece and her newborn who live with him? How would he feel if they became sick? Also, his job as a contractor and painter meant he was often going into other people’s homes. Didn’t he want to be protected?

“By the time that friend, Katrina Randolph, told him about the nearby barbershop hosting a vaccination clinic, and offered to drive him there, Alston, 57, was far along on the journey to changing his mind.

‘She really influenced me to get it,’ he acknowledged, standing on the sidewalk outside the Hyattsville, Md., barbershop earlier this month after getting immunized. ‘I listen to Katrina. I know she wants me to be around.’

“Alston got his jab of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, along with a free fried fish sandwich and a $30 coupon toward a haircut and a shave, at The Shop Spa, a barbershop that serves a predominantly Black and Latino clientele. It’s the first coronavirus vaccine clinic in a barbershop in Maryland and organizers hope it will become a national model. A newly formed partnership that includes Black community and business leaders, the University of Maryland and the White House covid-19 response team is working to make that happen. …

“ ‘Why not go where people already have trust — the barbershop and the salon?’ said Stephen B. Thomas, a health policy professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park, who founded the barbershop initiative known as HAIR (Health Advocates In-Reach and Research) more than a decade ago. …

“As the United States enters what is likely to be the toughest stretch of its ambitious immunization effort, health officials are moving away from mass vaccination sites and focusing instead on small clinics like The Shop Spa that rely on word-of-mouth and use trusted, often nontraditional messengers. …

“Alston’s friend, Randolph, 52, [is] part of the cadre of barbers and stylists trained as health educators through the University of Maryland program. The initial focus was colon cancer, diabetes and other diseases that disproportionately affect Blacks. But with vaccination levels lagging in Black and Brown communities, the program seemed a natural to persuade those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic but are often reluctant to get shots. …

“Mike Brown, 49, The Shop Spa’s lead barber, sees sharing such information as one more way to connect with regulars. ‘These are people we genuinely care about, and have become part of their family,’ he said. ‘Sometimes we’re like marriage counselors, sometimes fashion consultants, sometimes drinking buddies. We’re respected in the information that we give.’ …

“To get the word out about the barbershop clinic, Thomas and his team canvassed churches, local businesses and homeless communities and came up with about 100 people who hadn’t been immunized yet.

“Getting them to come to the clinic was another matter. During preregistration calls, Thomas said, some people hung up when they learned the vaccine being offered was from Johnson & Johnson. Others declined even after face-to-face conversations with the team administering the jabs.

“ ‘J & J is radioactive in the Black community because of the baby powder issue,’ he said, referring to the product the company stopped selling last year after it was ordered to pay billions of dollars related to claims the product causes cancer. The company has denied the allegations. …

“Other people opted out of the clinic over worries about the rare but severe type of blood clot that has been linked to the vaccine, even though federal health officials have said the vaccines’ benefits far outweigh those risks.

“Still others expressed a distrust of the health-care system that Thomas says can be overcome only by expanding these health-care outreach efforts beyond coronavirus vaccinations. …

“All in all, 35 people received the shots during that first clinic, Thomas said. … Despite the initial small turnout, the barbershop clinic is starting to generate buzz. … ‘Now we have demand,’ Thomas said. ‘People are bringing people.’

“Randolph figures she has changed the minds of at least 75 people. That includes Alston, her 63-year-old aunt who has such limited access to health care that she has no front teeth, and Jamar Gibbons, 36, a postal worker — all of whom showed up for a shot and a free fish sandwich.

“Luz Castillo, 20, who works at the restaurant next door came to the clinic because she was worried about exposure to unvaccinated customers. She, too, was concerned about blood clot risks linked to the vaccine. But she said she was reassured after a Spanish-speaking health worker answered her questions and pointed to the millions of vaccinated people who have had no problems.” By the way, Suzanne had J&J. No problems.

More at the Post, here.

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