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Advocates Hold COVID 'Vaccinate-A-Thon' To Boost Rates Among Black Residents

Folks gathered at Chickasaw Park for the Vaccinate-A-Thon
Folks gathered at Chickasaw Park for the Vaccinate-A-Thon

People gathered at Chickasaw Park Saturday for a COVID-19 Vaccinate-A-Thon, an event hosted by the Louisville chapter of the NAACP and Park DuValle Community Health Center.

Organizers say the goal was to reach the communities with the lowest vaccination rates and try to change those numbers. COVID-19 testing, vaccines and information were available on site.

There was also music, prizes and food offered to attendees as further incentive.

Organizers wanted to make the vaccination process simple. For attendees wanting to get the COVID shot, little paperwork was required. They only had to provide their name, date of birth and contact information to set up appointments for a second dose.

According to data from the city, residents in west Louisville ZIP codes have the lowest vaccination rates in the area. More data show that the issue is connected to race.

“Right now, 13.1% of African Americans or Black people in Jefferson County are vaccinated,” said Ann Hagan-Grigsby, chief executive officer of Park DuValle Community Health Center. 

Low vaccination rates among Black Louisville residents is particularly troubling as the delta variant, a more easily transmitted variant of COVID-19, spreads in Louisville. 

Part of vaccine hesitancy can be attributed to fears about side effects from the shot, however there are other factors, too, said Hagan-Grigsby.

“I think the other thing is that they just don’t know if it’s safe,” she said. “Then there are a lot of myths, discrepancies and conspiracy theories about this vaccine.”

Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham said there are reasons why Chickasaw Park was specifically chosen for Saturday’s event.  

“Chickasaw Park, during segregation, was the park that was open and for African Americans. Most of the Black community knows where Chickasaw Park is and therefore we thought it would be ideal,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham hopes that organizations like the NAACP and Park DuValle Community Health Center continue to work together for events like Saturday's Vaccinate-A-Thon. He said they can help build trust and lower vaccine hesitancy among the city’s Black residents.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.