The latest numbers show that Black communities still have some of the lowest vaccination rates across San Diego County.
Throughout the pandemic, outreach campaigns have been critical when it comes to improving vaccination rates for communities of color.
Dr. Robert Gillespie works closely with groups like the Multicultural Health Foundation that work tirelessly to bring vaccines and COVID education directly to people where it’s most convenient: “Churches, community centers, barber shops…places like that are where we’re going to get our largest success,” he said.
The County of San Diego signed contracts with these community groups -- providing millions of dollars to help cover the cost of outreach efforts. The contracts, however, recently expired.
“Yes that money has dried up from the initial grants but hopefully my understanding is there may be some additional funds that will be available soon,” said Dr. Gillespie.
He explains in the meantime, their outreach efforts have continued thanks to the help of other groups like Sharp HealthCare. County funds have gone towards not only mobile vaccine clinics, but also things like billboards, websites, and educational seminars.
Despite their ongoing efforts, vaccination rate for Black San Diegans is still hovering just over 50%.
Dr. Gillespie attributes that to general mistrust and misinformation on social media. His message for any person still on the fence comes to the vaccine: “First of all I respect your decision to question. But you also have to look at the data."
He says he hopes to continue to have these kinds of open conversations.
“I could spend up to an hour talking to one person to get them to change their mind, but that was worth it to me," he said.