Parkland Health and Hospital System is using a combination of technology and old-school word of mouth.
- A North Texas hospital system, meanwhile, is working to tackle the issue of vaccine hesitancy within minority communities. It's a combination of technology and some old school word of mouth. Our Brooke Katz reports in today's Ones for Wellness.
BRYAN L. CARTER: I got the vaccine today simply to be able to protect myself, my family, my community.
BROOKE KATZ: These are just some of the so-called community influencers lending their voices to Parkland Health and Hospital System.
DR. ELBA GARCIA: It's not a secret that the Latino community has been greatly affected by this pandemic.
BROOKE KATZ: It's all part of their ongoing effort to address vaccine hesitancy. And these are the experts behind the videos working to bridge the gap in health care. Their work started back in 2019.
MICHAEL MALAISE: We knew the disparities existed. Before the pandemic, we had created a plan to address those disparities that are always present. And then when the pandemic hit, it was kind of a no brainer to say this is going to be impacted by the fact those people have disparities even in the best of times.
BROOKE KATZ: The team turned to well-known faces that different communities could relate to.
ANGELA MORRIS: Your neighbors, your faith leaders, individuals who are part of that generational family that have been in communities for years, individuals that are involved in activism, and officials from those local businesses. We rely on them all.
BRENDA RODRIGUEZ: Once they identify someone, we basically, you know, get to speak with them, get to find out what was their reason behind getting the COVID vaccine, and why is it that they're encouraging their community to get the vaccine.
BROOKE KATZ: But it's not just the people. It's also the places-- knowing where to target videos, ads, even their people on the ground. That's where the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation comes in. Data scientists can pinpoint the zip codes most at risk.
STEVE MIFF: Early on, the outreach was very much focused on testing sites and was really focused on where do we need to place both the physical location as well as placing the mobile testing sites to get to people faster, make it as convenient as possible. Obviously, today, we're focusing on the vaccinations, not only where, but also understanding where are people that have not been registered, have not received the vaccine? So those efforts can be very targeted.
BROOKE KATZ: The work pays off. When vaccinations started in January, the Black and Hispanic populations were underrepresented. Now the team says the numbers are more on point with the Dallas County population, the Hispanic population actually slightly over-represented. How do you feel when you see that, when you see the proof in the pudding?
MICHAEL MALAISE: I think it feels like progress because sometimes you start out in an effort like this. And we were trying to undo decades and decades of health disparity. And can you do that in a short amount of time in time to save people's lives with the vaccine? The answer is yes, if you put enough effort and resources into it.
BROOKE KATZ: Brooke Katz, CBS 11 News.