“My heart is made up”: Camden’s trusted vaccine messengers are cutting out their work for them | States and Regions

Whenever you visit Camden’s Essential Blend Hair Studio, you’ll find a lively barber shop full of conversations about music and everyday life. When vaccinated with COVID-19, the room suddenly becomes quiet and prevents hair clippers from barking.

“I may not be able to convince anyone, but they can understand why I take the position I take,” his pre-vaccination story told the store last Thursday. After feeling weak, Javan Rankins said.

Rankins is one of the 15 Camden hairdressers employed by the local nonprofit Center for Family Services and Rutgers University-Camden, which acts as a trusted messenger. The idea is as follows. People like Rankins are more likely to persuade neighbors and customers on the fence about vaccines than incentives, and new data show that they weren’t as effective as once thought to boost vaccination. understood.

Still, Rankins doesn’t know how many people he was able to convince. He can’t even shake some of the people closest to him, including his colleague Donald Smith.

Smith, a black man, has a list of widely cited concerns. The vaccine was deployed too quickly. Even if fully vaccinated, you can still get sick (although breakthrough cases are rare and less likely to get serious illness). There are no FDA-approved vaccines (except for emergency use). The medical community has a history of ignoring and using the black community.

But then his concerns turn in a conspiracy direction. Smith said there was no evidence to support this claim, but he heard that the vaccine would make you infertile. Smith said he read that the injection site was magnetized. Vaccines cannot make our bodies magnetic. Finally, Smith pointed out a widely revealed story of Australian soldiers forcing vaccinations of people, including children. The story came to the fore after false but conservative commentator Candace Owens made inaccurate claims on Instagram in July. It reinforces his belief that governments and pharmaceutical companies do not truly have his best interests.

“I’m doing my research and continuing to do it, which shows that there are more opponents than pros and my mind is determined,” Smith said. “It will take a few years I say, okay, these people are vaccinated and their descendants … their children are completely well out, as they are well You see, those people have a long and healthy life, and I would say I might be vaccinated. “

Rankins is attempting these conversations as the Delta variant becomes a greater concern across the United States and states and local governments choose to regain mitigation efforts such as indoor mask mandates.

In New Jersey, Camden officials have slowly boosted vaccination efforts by promoting state incentives and using other outreach methods. Just last week, Mayor Vic Kirsterfen walked around the city and advertised the vaccine with a loudspeaker.

During the early months of vaccine deployment, the city was lagging behind the rest of the state. Currently, the city delivers at least one shot to 60% of adults over the age of 18. That number was 55% a month ago.

Megan Lepore of the Center for Family Services said the need to educate adults about vaccines is more important than ever as children return to school and realize they are more vulnerable to delta variants.

Children over the age of 12 are already eligible for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

“If we are not yet prepared for adults to make the right decisions themselves, how can we think they will be armed with the right information to make that decision for their children? ? “Repoa said.

But for many like Smith, the testimony he finds on social media for those who claim to have harmful side effects is more than a fact-checked story that disproves the myths he finds online. It’s powerful.

“We see dying people who haven’t been spoken yet,” he claims, as others in the hairdresser agreed and nodded. “It’s not on CNN. It’s bad for the press, so I won’t publish it. It’s bad for big pharma. It’s bad for the health industry.”

After all, Smith is more afraid of what can happen with vaccination than it can with without vaccination.

“I have a family that cares about me. I care about them. I have children, I have to stay alive,” he said.

Here, experts like David Rapp (he helped create a handbook on how to “improve vaccine communication and fight disinformation”) can see the opening for a fruitful conversation. can.

Despite the flood of PSAs from celebrities and politicians, professors of psychology and learning sciences at Northwestern University believe that prominent figures and organizations are unlikely to be able to convince anyone on the fence. increase. Therefore, he considers the one-on-one reliable messenger work to be still the best way to attract people, but admits that rap can have a lot to ask people. ..

Still, false information reinforces basic beliefs that are often associated with people’s identities, such as instilling suspicion in people on the fence and thinking that the government does not truly have the best interests of the community. There is a possibility.

“If someone really believes that the medical community doesn’t really have the best interests of people, they may have their own experience suggesting the real reason they have and that it is the case. “Lap explained. “It’s going to fight or reject the medical world’s vision of how people should behave,” they might think some of them should say. “

He said that ridiculing someone who withholds the vaccine and repeats the disproved story only puts them in defense.

“To make a difference, I really encourage people to take vaccination action. We have to meet them where they are,” Lap insisted. “And think about what are the main issues that keep them from being vaccinated …”

Lepore said that was the purpose of the barber program. It took me three months to get to the program’s 15 barbers. It took three months for outreach workers to visit directly, flooded with questions, and return answers.

“We need to go back more than a year and a half of false information about this,” Lepore said. “15 people don’t seem to be that many, but again, that’s why it took a very long time to get some of the 15 people. It was a conversation. It was a few weeks, It was a conversation for weeks, weeks. “

That’s how Rankins won. He found that weight was at high risk of developing serious coronavirus complications and helped outreach workers find a vaccination clinic. The family also helped shake him.

“It was as if we had to do what we needed to enjoy the summer and enjoy our family and friends,” Rankins said.

Rankins tells his childhood friend Anthony O’Neill that getting the jab had no side effects.

“I’m really proud that he was vaccinated, but I’m scared of him too,” said O’Neill, who came out of the Rankins hairdresser’s chair.

Like Smith, O’Neill is one of the last holdouts of his family, but instead chooses social distance and takes a wait-and-see approach. When Rankins politely persuaded the story of vaccination, he said so on a case-by-case basis, but O’Neill listened politely and it seemed he had won until he couldn’t.

Rankins said he was convinced that this made it difficult to know how many people were there. But he is still optimistic.

“Even if we could reach one in ten, that’s a good thing,” he said. “You are not going to reach out to everyone.”

“My heart is made up”: Camden’s trusted vaccine messengers are cutting out their work for them | States and Regions

Source link “My heart is made up”: Camden’s trusted vaccine messengers are cutting out their work for them | States and Regions

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