Facebook Launches Initiative to Drive COVID-19 Vaccine Equity
Courtesy: Facebook

Due to a successful COVID-19 vaccination rollout by the Biden administration, the country is well on its way to completely reemerging. However, due to substantiated mistrust stemming from historical medical abuse, the Black community is lagging behind other ethnic groups in vaccination numbers. This month, the CDC reported 60% of white people have been given at least one vaccine dose. Black people are at 9%. 

To combat this, Facebook recently announced its new ambitious initiatives to combat the barriers some communities face and help them get vaccinated. 

On June 30, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sanberg announced new efforts to drive vaccine equity, including a mobile vaccine truck, popup mobile vaccine clinics in cities across the country, and more. 

In partnership with the Sierra Foundation, Hispanic Federation, and other regional nonprofits, Facebook is expanding its California vaccination program nationwide by supporting pop-up clinics in cities and states where there are Facebook offices. The partners include the Hispanic Federation, Sierra Health Foundation, Bay Area Community Health, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Equity in Education Coalition  (EEC), United Way of New York City, African American Youth Harvest Foundation, Austin Black Pride, and Latinos Progresando,  League of Community Health Centers, United Medical Center Mobile Health Clinic and Belle Haven Action, Austin Coming Together, and the Ravenswood Family Health Center among others. 

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“These efforts aim to help fill the gap in equitable vaccine access for communities who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,”  Sonia Sroka, Facebook’s Head of Global Multicultural Communications said via a statement. 

Facebook also announced new and expanded ways they are helping to increase vaccination rates and combat vaccine misinformation. The social media giant launched a new media literacy partnership with PEN America to address COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation in underserved communities. 

“PEN America has long raised the alarm about the threat disinformation poses to civic discourse and democracy; in the context of the pandemic, we now see how it also threatens public health and the revitalization of the economy,” said Dru Menaker, PEN America Chief Operating Officer in a statement. “And we have always believed in the importance of solutions that inoculate individuals against disinformation, empower trusted messengers to be disinformation disruptors within their communities, and respond creatively to these mutating threats. With communities of color and other underserved communities  disproportionately affected by both targeted disinformation campaigns and the pandemic, it is important that we continue our disinformation defense work this year by offering free, accessible media literacy trainings and multilingual resources tailored to stemming the spread of misleading content about COVID-19 and vaccines.” 

Additionally, the CDC recently launched a Spanish-language vaccine finder on WhatsApp, and last week, notifications were sent to US Instagram users with a link to vaccine.gov

Facebook said they hope these efforts help more people from underserved communities get vaccinated against COVID-19 as they work toward the national goal of reaching herd immunity and Facebook’s goal of helping vaccinate 50 million people.

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