Black Durham leaders say 'messaging' is vital in getting COVID-19 vaccine buy-in

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Leaders in Durham's Black community are doing whatever they can to get more people to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Wanda Boone said it's all about messaging, images and facts.

"If we as Black people don't see ourselves in the information that's being produced and handed out, then it doesn't seem like we're a part of what's going on," Dr. Boone said, who did a play-by-play of what she felt like after getting the vaccine this past weekend.

After she documented her mostly positive experience, she said people wrote her to say they'd be signing up for the vaccine as well.

Dr. Boone heads up the nonprofit Together for Resilient Youth, which helps prevent substance abuse young people. Lately they've partnered with state health officials and Duke University to reach underserved communities to help with things like rent, food and even COVID-19 kits.

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She's also on Durham's African American COVID-19 Taskforce and has been organizing community conversations and town halls to let the community ask questions.

"I think it's always been a matter of understanding and wanting the information from trusted sources," said Dr. Boone.

She believes the messaging has to be on the same lines as that which were done to make seatbelt use a common thing in cars or reduce the popularity of smoking.

"Once they trust that other African Americans are getting it and they're not having adverse reactions to it, they may be more likely to get the vaccine themselves," said Tonya Stancil, a community healthcare worker for Dr. Boone in Durham.

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She got the first vaccine and will be getting her second shot next week.

There's another community conversation entitled "Facts and Fiction" on Zoom Wednesday. It will include a Duke doctor as well as the director of the Durham Department of Health.

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