Baton Rouge - More Louisianians are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana wants to make sure everyone knows the facts and has equal access. The insurer is partnering with 100 Black Men in Baton Rouge and New Orleans to reach out and provide resources to minority communities. Their outreach aims to make everyone, especially those at a higher risk for COVID-19, feel safe, prepared and comfortable getting the vaccine as soon as they can.
As part of both organizations’ commitment to health equity, they are working together to educate residents in Black and Hispanic communities about the vaccine. They will jointly advocate for fairness and greater access in how the vaccine is distributed. This can help increase overall vaccination rates.
“At Blue Cross, our mission is to improve the health and lives of Louisianians,” said John Brown Jr., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s chief Human Resources officer. “So, we are doing our part to encourage everyone to get vaccinated not only to protect their health, but to protect the health of their family, friends and neighbors.”
Many people, particularly in the Black, Hispanic and minority communities, have vaccine hesitancy. These groups also are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19, dying from it, or having severe complications. This makes getting vaccinated even more critical.
“The vaccine gives us an opportunity to have control of getting back to some semblance of normal life,” said Eric Griggs, a physician and Health and Wellness Chair for 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans. “In the black and Latin X community, it's of the utmost importance because those are the people in our community who are most affected with the virus. At one-point last April, our governor announced that seven out of 10 bodies at the morgue looked like me. They were African Americans who had died from COVID-19. So, it's serious, and the vaccines are a tool in our bag to protect ourselves and each other.”
Research shows that while minority communities are more at risk, they also are more likely to have problems getting the vaccine. Reasons for this include lack of information and outreach and distrust of the medical community because of past injustices. Also, there are typically fewer vaccination locations in areas where they live.
“I think there are a number of reasons why individuals in the minority community are not being vaccinated at the same rate,” Brown said. “Part of it is there's a history of challenges that we have as people of color, where things done over the years have really raised the level of reticence around being vaccinated. But with education about how safe and effective these vaccines are, we can build trust in these communities.”
As part of their outreach partnership, Blue Cross and 100 Black Men are advocating for equitable access to vaccination locations in underserved and minority communities. Both organizations are meeting with community leaders and healthcare providers, helping coordinate events, providing resources and sponsoring mass vaccination events. Blue Cross and 100 Black Men joined Baton Rouge General to sponsor a mass vaccination event in North Baton Rouge earlier this month. They are exploring future opportunities for similar events.
This partnership is part of the insurer’s ongoing efforts to help get as many people as possible vaccinated. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its affiliates, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, joined a nationwide effort to be community connectors and raise awareness about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
Blue Cross and 100 Black Men to Host Educational Facebook Live Event March 17
To educate Louisianians about the COVID-19 vaccines, Blue Cross and 100 Black Men are hosting virtual events. Representatives of both organizations will share vaccination facts and answer participants’ questions. The first joint broadcast, A Candid Conversation About the COVID-19 Vaccine, a Facebook Live event, will be March 17 at 6 p.m.
Paula Shepherd, vice president of Benefit Operations Division - Claims Operations and leader of the African American Employee Resource Group at Blue Cross, and Dr. Max Madhere, a physician and executive member of 100 Black Men -- Baton Rouge, will discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 vaccine in Black, Hispanic and minority communities.
Viewers can tune into the live broadcast on the Blue Cross Facebook page or through this Zoom link: http://bit.ly/30DCyP2.
Leaders from Blue Cross and 100 Black Men also share facts and talk about why it is important for members of minority communities to get the COVID-19 vaccine in this video news release from Hometown Productions (22:55).
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
In Louisiana, timing for getting the COVID-19 vaccine depends on age, occupation, health status and/or risk factors. Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website, ldh.la.gov, very often to see the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and who currently qualifies to get one.
Members of individual and employer health plans, Medicare and Medicaid plans can get the COVID-19 vaccine for $0 out of pocket. The federal government prepaid for U.S. Food & Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 vaccines through 2021. This coverage is included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act also allows uninsured patients to get the vaccine for $0. Blue Cross will cover the vaccine’s administration without any member cost-share (deductible, copay or coinsurance) on most health plans. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with medical directors and other experts discussing COVID-19 prevention and other health topics. Subscribe to the channel to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates on COVID-19 and other health topics.
For more on what Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is doing for customers during COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.
About 100 Black Men of America, Inc.
100 Black Men was founded as an organization in New York City in 1963. The national organization, 100 Black Men of America, Inc. began with nine chapters in 1986 as a national alliance of leading African American men of business, public affairs and government with a mission to improve the quality of life for African Americans, particularly African American youth. These visionaries included businessmen and industry leaders such as David Dinkins, Robert Mangum, Dr. William Hayling, Nathaniel Goldston III, Livingston Wingate Andrew Hatcher, and Jackie Robinson. Since inception, the vision emerged and grew to over 10,000 members impacting over 125,000 underserved, underrepresented minority youth annually. Visit www.100blackmen.org for more information on the programs and initiatives of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and their global network of chapters.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 and 2020 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.