BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials across the United States have had to break through language, cultural and accessibility barriers in order to reach Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American communities.
Officials in Mississippi are not an exception but have been meeting that challenge in creative ways.
On Feb. 19, the COVID-19 Health Equity Response Unit at the Mississippi State Department of Health held a virtual town hall for the Vietnamese community.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs joined Coi Nguyen with the MSDH COVID-19 Vietnamese Task Force, Cynthia Le, NP with the Singing River Health System, and Xuan Tran with Mercy Housing and Human Development.
The group spent time educating people about the COVID-19 vaccine, where to get it, and how to register for appointments.
They also spent time answering questions and debunking any rumors and misinformation about the health crisis.
“Just remember to mask up and keep social distance,” Le said.
Organizers also stressed that people should participate in a COVID-19 vaccine survey to better understand why there is a hesitancy to take the doses.
The survey is confidential and available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Health officials also stressed the importance of following safety guidelines, even 11 months into the health crisis.
“Don’t let your guard down now. We’re making progress. Now is not the time to let up on our protective measures,” Dobbs said.
The meeting was one of several efforts by the department to become a trustworthy presence in minority communities.
Along with other sessions aimed at Black and Hispanic communities, the department has organized COVID-19 testing sites at the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in Biloxi, churches, recreation centers and other areas across South Mississippi.