Three women’s organizations have teamed up to help bring COVID-19 vaccine education to women of color and their families. The new campaign, “Take The Shot for The WIN,”  was announced virtually on August 10. The timing coincides with National Immunization Awareness Month

The collaboration involves the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), and the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Together, they aim to raise awareness about immunizations and vaccine hesitancy in communities that have been experiencing lower vaccine rates, yet higher mortality rates due to COVID-19. 

“Throughout the pandemic, the disparities in health, economic, and social outcomes have been stark for Black women and their families,” said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, which is celebrating its anniversary this week with celebrity-led events. “This [vaccine] campaign will take us one step further in reaching Black women so that they’re not only empowered to educate their families, friends, and communities about the COVID-19 vaccines, but will also have strong influencers and role models, as partners, to bolster their efforts.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been more than 600,000 COVID deaths across the U.S., with Black, Latinx, Asian and indigenous communities disproportionately impacted. In recent weeks, the highly contagious Delta variant has emerged and led to a surge in cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. 

To increase vaccination coverage and protect more people, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced it will require more than 25,000 members of its health care workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Staff at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Indian Health Service who serve in federally-operated health care and clinical research facilities will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes employees, contractors, trainees, and volunteers.  

Additionally, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy will require members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of medical readiness procedures to prepare for any potential deployment need as emergency responders.

During the campaign kick off, Angela Rye moderated a virtual chat with current and former WNBA players, Black physicians and sister-leaders. Basketball star and Olympic gold medalist, Lisa Leslie, shared that her husband was diagnosed with COVID-19. While caring for her spouse, his pain and suffering hit home. “I want to help our people to understand that when you see it and it affects your loved one, you will understand the importance of getting that vaccine.” 

The “Take The Shot for The WIN,” campaign dovetails with broader efforts that the WNBA and WNBPA have undertaken in the past year. In 2020, the league and players’ association jointly launched The Justice Movement and created the Social Justice Council to advance social justice and drive conversations about race, voting rights, gun control, LGBTQ rights and more. 

“In Black and brown communities, women play a big role in the health decisions for their children, elder parents, their partners, and themselves,” said Terri Jackson, Executive Director of the WNBPA. “As we have seen recently, the women of `The W’ have pretty powerful voices and they can help mobilize our communities. It made sense, then, for our fully “vaxxed” membership to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine education and form a mighty trifecta to launch the campaign.”

The groups hope that their collective efforts to inform Black women and their families about the vaccines, will yield community health benefits. 

“When spider webs unite, they can even tie up a lion,” said Dr. Johnnetta Cole, president of NCNW. “In the spirit of that African proverb, [we are] partnering to encourage Black women and their families to, “Take the shot.” 

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