Identify key influencer(s) and represent them in your content or as part of your dissemination and outreach campaigns. This is especially important considering recent research that shows that adults in Black and Latino communities are less likely to know someone, or personally have received at least one dose of the vaccine, yet also most likely to want to see how the vaccine is working for other people they know. Getting more testimonials out there digitally with far reach will increase relationship-based transmission of health behaviors. Leverage the scale of digital media to reach beyond someone’s local network with a resonant testimonial.
Here are some guidelines for reaching Black and Brown communities
Racism is a risk factor for COVID, not race. If discussing race and COVID vaccinations, be clear on your intent. You need to be specific as to how the two relate (racism and systemic inequalities and vaccine availability/uptake/trust) and what action items your message is trying to convey.
Don’t assume a shared identity in your content outreach strategy. There are many communities within the Black and Brown Communities. It’s important to not assume that there is one identity shared across these communities. About 50% of Hispanic adults say they most often describe themselves by their family’s country of origin or heritage, using terms such as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Salvadoran.. (Gonzalez-Barrera, 2020) About three-quarters of Black adults say that being Black is extremely (52%) or very (22%) important to how they think about themselves; by comparison, about six-in-ten Hispanic (59%) and 56% of Asian adults say being Hispanic or Asian is extremely or very important to their identity.
Avoid assumptions of homogeneity in linguistic preferences. There is significant linguistic diversity in America’s Black and Brown communities, so your communication strategy needs to take this into account and not center your outreach strategy on language alone. Speaking Spanish is seen as a key part of Hispanic identity; use this to consider how to reach this population. For U.S. Hispanics, Speaking Spanish Is the Most Important Part of Hispanic Identity across Immigrant Generations.
Acknowledge valid concerns regarding vaccine safety. Given the historical context of medical misconduct towards Black and Brown communities, there are generational impacts to the trust that the medical community has not earned back. Recognizing this history of inequities and social justice issues, and the lower rates of clinical trial participation from these racial groups, address concerns with humility while also reassuring them of Covid-19 vaccine safety and efficacy.
Present clear information on side effects versus safety issues. Highlight the differences between expected brief reactions to the vaccine versus critical safety issues. For example, of those who have been vaccinated, 45% had minor side effects, 7% moderate, and none severe.
Recognize concerns on immigration status/documentation. Acknowledgment of one’s concern for safety is key to also sharing messages of vaccine availability and access. Offer resources like this one to inform them on Immigrant Rights. If possible, assure them that healthcare providers are not legally obligated to report nor document immigration status at the point of care.
Recognize barriers and offer a solution. Some individuals, particularly those who are still independent, may have perceived transportation inconvenience (lack of access) or financial concerns. Acknowledge perceived barriers and highlight solutions in your messaging (e.g., clarity on the cost of the vaccine and clarify there are no hidden costs by healthcare providers; help them locate facilities near public transportation options).
Leverage seamless bilingual content strategy. Many individuals use multiple languages interchangeably or have specific language preferences depending on the modality (written versus spoken). Others speak only English but culturally identify with linguistic norms within their own communities. In communications, it’s important to think creatively beyond word-for-word translations to reach these dynamic language audiences. (See Transcreation Tips section).
Consider trust and agency in healthcare communication with these communities. We need to earn trust and recognize the imperative to give people the agency over their own selves and the self-efficacy to provide for their own wellbeing. The decision is ultimately theirs. These values should be reflected in word choices and imagery in all health communication outreach. Trust in state governments may defer by age group. In recent research, younger Latino adults are less trusting than older Latinos of government as a source of information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Their confidence was highest from their own healthcare provider.
Leverage imagery that resonates and is diverse. Stock images are often quite saturated and are entrenched in institutional biases. Consider looking locally to hire photographers in the community you’re trying to reach and put forward images that inspire and connect with your constituency. This includes diverse images of people and scenery, which is localized and represents your communities' surroundings best (urban v. rural, local communities and diversity, local fashion choices, etc).
Consider modalities that resonate within certain communities. Extant research has shown efficacy in leveraging telenovela/fotonovela style communication in Latino communities. See below for an example.
Use media outlets that resonate within communities. 11% of surveyed Latinos in a recent study by Nielson reported social media as their trusted source of information on coronavirus as compared to 10% for government websites.
Ask community culture brokers to help spread the word and serve as a mediator. Build relationships with trusted messengers from diverse organizations and community groups. Find individuals in the local community that has been vaccinated to build trust and to widen the net of those who know someone who has had successful experiences with vaccination (use of video, written, media testimonials).
Work closely with the IHS on outreach communication to the Tribal Nations.
Identify local channels for community health (e.g., Promotoras) and ask for their participation in a video testimonial, news segment, social media campaign, etc.
Leverage local religious institutions to reinforce vaccine availability information and services. Again, ask for their participation in local campaigns and content design.