‘Cultural Brokers’ Work To Bridge Gaps In Equitable Vaccine Distribution

There continues to be gaps in equitable vaccine distribution across the country and in Minnesota, Jennifer Mayerle reports (2:23). WCCO 4 News At 6 - March 25, 2021

Video Transcript

- We learned today Governor Tim Walz will open vaccine eligibility to all Minnesotans 16 and older starting on March 30.

- But there continues to be gaps in equitable vaccine distribution across the country and in Minnesota. M Health Fairview is working with people they call cultural brokers to close some of those gaps. WCCO's Jennifer Mayerle found out how the effort is helping minority communities.

LWEPAW KACHER: Pandemic hit everyone differently, especially in my culture

JENNIFER MAYERLE: Lwepaw Kacher is a member of the [? Koran ?] community in East St. Paul. She's also a cultural broker with M Health Fairview, acting as an interpreter to educate trusted community leaders about the vaccine.

LWEPAW KACHER: My responsibility and my-- my role is to provide accurate information to the community members.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: She says her community focuses on taking care of each other, even when one is sick, so it's especially important to get the right information to families.

LWEPAW KACHER: We live together in multigenerational houses, in apartment. We share houses with our grandma and father and mother and little child and everybody.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: M Health Fairview has partnered with several cultural brokers who understand the complexities the barriers in their community can cause. They're creating videos that translate culturally relevant vaccine information to minority communities.

So far M Health Fairview has held 57 community vaccine events, administering more than 10,000 doses. The state's Vaccine Equity Director, Dr. Nathan Chomilo says community partners are key.

NATHAN CHOMILO: There's a lot of ways that we can continue to, you know, operationalize equity in our access, to continue to engage around communication about how these vaccines are safe and effective, to, you know, really see these gaps hopefully decrease.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: He says some clinics are dropping eligibility requirements for vaccinations in underserved areas.

NATHAN CHOMILO: Having some flexibility with some of those really helps again reach some of the-- the populations that are just harder to reach.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: Kacher says she hopes the effort provides education and access to more Minnesotans.

LWEPAW KACHER: We need to be vaccinated, because we want to go back to our normal lives. [CLAPPING]

- Woo hoo. Round 1.

JENNIFER MAYERLE: Jennifer Mayerle, WCCO 4 News.

- The health department releases vaccine distribution data every Friday, and you can always find the very latest information at wcco.com/links. Governor Tim Walz will announce opening vaccines to Minnesotans 16 and older tomorrow at 11:30, and you can watch on WCCO TV and streaming on CBS in Minnesota.