Black Lives Matter Dayton hosting COVID vaccination outreach

Black Lives Matter Dayton plans to spend the next several months leading a campaign to share COVID-19 vaccination information and reduce the impact of the virus on area Black people.

The Shot for Life campaign was announced by Carlos Buford, founder of Black Lives Matter Dayton, speaking at a Sunday afternoon press conference outside Ziks Family Pharmacy, joined by Dr. Andre Harris Sr., registered nurse Charlotte Harris, and local community activists.

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“Dayton is a great community. We want to see everybody do well,” said Harris Sr., president of Gem City Medical, Dental, Pharmaceutical Society. “And we don’t want to go back into the dark days of what we were dealing with in the fall and winter of last year.”

Buford said he expects the campaign to last several months, including two weeks from now when they will be at McIntosh Park near Edwin C. Moses and Riverview Avenue, giving away bookbags, schools supplies, information on COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and hygiene supplies.

Those gathered Sunday hoped that by spreading vaccination information, they can reduce the impact of COVID-19 in the Dayton Black community.

In Montgomery County, about 48% of white residents have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while about 36% of Black residents have at least one dose. The gap stems from a range of reasons such as historic and contemporary bad experiences with the health system, access barriers, lingering questions and misinformation.

The Delta variant has raised the stakes, with hospitalizations and ICU admissions rising.

“Black Lives Matter Dayton is not by any means indicting the Black community on this issue,” Buford said. “We just simply care.”

To find a vaccine, people can text their ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby vaccine locations.

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While speakers at the event urged vaccinations for all as a first line of defense, Harris said people who don’t get vaccinated can still take steps like living as healthy of a lifestyle as possible, practicing good hand hygiene and wearing a mask.

Harris spoke to several common vaccine questions at the press conference. He said the vaccine does not change anyone’s DNA and it does not cause infertility. While the specific vaccines are newly authorized, the research that laid the foundation for the vaccines has been in the works for decades.

As an OB/GYN, Harris said he also wanted to emphasize that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women.

“I know that it is a personal decision, and as an OB/GYN, it’s a personal area for me, because pregnant women that get the virus or get any kind of respiratory virus have much worse outcomes,” Harris said.

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