Kaiser Permanente and Maryland Department of Health partner to promote vaccine confidence through ‘Good Health & Great Hair’

Jul 23, 2021

GoVAX initiative will help build more community-based partnerships through barber shops and hair salons to increase vaccine confidence and equity in African American, Black and Hispanic communities

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced a partnership with Kaiser Permanente’s Good Health & Great Hair program to bolster ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The partnership will promote vaccine confidence and equity in African American, Black and Hispanic communities by focusing education, training and outreach through local barber shops and hair salons.

“Ensuring that African American, Black, Hispanic and other communities hardest hit by COVID-19 receive a life-saving vaccine has been and remains a top priority for the state,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Our partnership with Kaiser Permanente will expand our efforts to vaccinate those in Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties who are still unvaccinated and remain at risk of hospitalization and death.”

As part of Maryland’s GoVAX initiative, Kaiser Permanente developed a multi-part training curriculum to help equip barber shop and hair salon owners with the education and information necessary to have conversations to boost vaccine confidence and in some cases, host vaccination clinics. The partnership officially launched this morning at the Hello Bonita salon in Baltimore with a kick-off event featuring community advocates and on-site vaccinations.

“Last year, we witnessed staggering racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 across the country and right here in our region,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president, Kaiser Permanente. “We’re proud to collaborate with the State of Maryland to improve health equity and eliminate disparities by providing vaccine education and other resources to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.”

Maryland has made significant strides to promote COVID-19 vaccine equity statewide. According to Bloomberg, Maryland now ranks sixth among states for vaccinating its share of the African American and Black population and third among states for vaccinating its share of the Hispanic population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 76 percent of all Marylanders age 18 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to get vaccinated—to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19, as well as to have their questions about the vaccine answered,” said Dr. Mona Gahunia, infectious diseases specialist and associate medical director at Kaiser Permanente. “We are honored to work with the State of Maryland to apply our unique community health approach to help achieve the critical goal of getting more Marylanders vaccinated against COVID-19.”

“Ensuring that all Marylanders have access to the COVID-19 vaccine is imperative to help our state continue to move forward,” said Deputy Director of MDH’s Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Dr. Mark Martin. “By teaching trusted community partners vital vaccine communication related to vaccine hesitancy, we’re confident that we’ll be able to reduce COVID-related health disparities in communities of color.”

For more information about Kaiser Permanente’s Good Health & Great Hair program, visit https://communityhealth-midatlantic.kaiserpermanente.org/ or email Regina Webb at Regina.Webb@KP.org.

For the latest information about COVID-19 in Maryland, including vaccine data, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov.

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