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Madison vaccine clinic targets Black men and families

RLWA VACCINES

MADISON (WKOW) -- Vaccination rates are high but communities of color are not getting vaccinated at the same rates.

State health officials say 13 percent of Black Wisconsinites have been vaccinated, compared to 31 percent of white Wisconsinites.

At the Rebalanced-life Wellness Association, uplifting Black men's health has been the number one priority.

With the vaccination effort Tuesday, it was just an extension of their mission.

"Here we're really excited because one thing we know for certain we're going to save some lives," founder Aaron Perry said.

He says they had worked hard to get the message out that the vaccines were safe and that people should get them.

That's why he worked with Black barbershops in the area to raise awareness in a community with a lot of vaccine hesitancy.

"I know a lot of people had mixed emotions about it," Sedric Morris Jr said.

He was one of the more than a hundred people getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine there.

While his father set up the appointment for them to get it together, he did not need to be encouraged.

"I wasn't at all nervous about getting the vaccine, I was actually looking forward to it," Morris said.

However, he was in the same camp as many -- eager to get it after having a hard time getting access to the vaccine.

"When my dad told me I was so relieved but I had been trying to find an appointment to get a vaccine for a while now," Morris said.

Not only did they put on the vaccination clinic Tuesday, but they're also the recipients of a $50 thousand state DHS grant to encourage vaccinations more than just at this clinic.

"Just the relationships that you build by reaching people where they're at where they're comfortable, where they feel safe and respect one another," Perry said. "That's been the key for us and that's why we keep pushing to do these things with the black barber shops."

They were also able to provide some Pfizer vaccines to younger participants, including some teens from the La Follette girls basketball team.

Organizers hope to continue putting these clinics on as often as vaccine supply allows.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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