St. Landry Parish - St. Landry Parish has seen a much higher rate of vaccinations among African Americans compared to other parts of Acadiana. Chief Population Health and Clinical Integration Officer for Opelousas General Health, Tim Marks says the biggest factor has been education.
"Education is absolute priority for people to understand what it is, what went into the vaccine preparation to make it available to us," said Marks.
The parish has seen the highest number of African Americans receive at least one dose of the vaccine in Acadiana at 43 percent. Marks says it’s all about being hands-on.
"The first sight that we gave the vaccines was with holy ghost catholic church here in town. Which is a predominantly African American church. Really what we’re trying to do is educate and promote but also go out into our community," he said.
He adds that having nurses sharing their own personal experience with the vaccine has aided in influencing others to also get vaccinated. "The clinicians being there, being able to educate, being able to say hey I got the vaccine too, this is my experience with it. This is everything you can expect from it."
He says through educating and promoting, many have become advocates in their own way.
"The grandparents who may have decided to go ahead and get the vaccine and then we receive a call from them, 'hey my daughter, my grandson, we’ve talked with them and shared our experience with it, shared the information with it. We’d like to get them signed up too', can you help us do that?," Marks said.
Marks also says none of their efforts would be possible without their frontline healthcare workers getting out in the community to educate and the citizens being open to learning and making informed decisions.
With the pausing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Marks ensures that they have more than enough doses of the Pfizer shot readily available to continue vaccinating the community.