Health officials view black-owned hair salons as possible COVID vaccination sites – CBS Boston

(CNN) – It’s an effort to expand access to coronavirus vaccines: Provide injections at the barber shop.

As part of a White House initiative, the National Association of County and City Health Officials plans to help train black-owned hair salons and barbershops to provide accurate information on vaccinations and even to provide vaccines wherever possible, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive of NACCHO, told CNN on Wednesday.

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The Biden administration said Wednesday it is teaming up with several organizations – the Black Coalition Against COVID, the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity and the SheaMoisture Company – to launch an initiative called “Shots at the Shop” to engage nationwide black-owned hair salons and beauty salons to promote local vaccine education and awareness.

The White House said throughout June that each participating store will help share vaccine information with customers, display educational materials, and some will even host on-site immunization events in partnership with local suppliers.

Months after the vaccine was launched in the country, federal data showed that vaccination rates of black Americans against COVID-19 still lag behind those of other groups.

“The role that NACCHO is going to play is to try to match hair salons and beauty salons with local health departments, so that we can forge a relationship there and determine if any of these commercial sites can as well. become vaccination sites or whatever it would take to make that happen, ”Freeman said.

“In partnership, health services may be able to work with these groups to provide health education to clients around immunization or even provide a public health nurse,” she added. “Local health services are ready to work in partnership to leverage these essential trusted members of the community to address vaccine education, talk about any hesitation or lack of information, and help make it easier to obtain vaccines or clinics for these businesses. “

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Several studies – published in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, and other journals – have shown that partnerships with barber shops can benefit public health initiatives as well as the patients they are trying to reach. , such as diabetes screening, high blood pressure monitoring and mental health awareness.

The use of the barber shop for medical purposes dates back to medieval times, when barbers were also doctors who sometimes performed surgeries, often on war-wounded. A barber surgeon, Leonardo Fioravanti, even influenced the development of reconstructive surgery.

Fast forward to the 19th century in the United States, when barbers were among the first entrepreneurs and business owners in the black community. In the south of the 1890s after reconstruction, black-owned barbershops with white clientele were often the target of vandalism and arson by white crowds, and black barbers began to open more stores in the black community specifically to serve black customers.

In the years to come, as racial segregation laws limited the spaces where black Americans could congregate, the barber shop served as a safe meeting place for the black community. In barbershops, black men could talk openly and honestly about a variety of topics, including their health – and it seems to continue today.

Now, “it’s not uncommon for barbers and beauticians to be used in different ways in the community to spread messages of good health – this is something we’ve seen happen a lot,” Freeman said, adding that the coronavirus vaccine “work is a natural extension of something that experience has shown can make a difference in the way black and brown communities learn about the vaccine and get vaccinated.”

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