Tarrant County leaders plan COVID vaccine PSAs targeting minority communities

Leaders are starting to lay out how they will circulate information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Politicians in Tarrant County want to focus on Black people and families who may be skeptical.

While the much-anticipated vaccine is now getting into the arms of health care workers, Tarrant County is preparing to get vaccine awareness messaging into minority communities.

 "They need to be hearing it from physicians and from leaders that are in the African-American community as well as the Hispanic communities," said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. "We really want to do a good job. Maybe bring in some sports figures, physicians."

The plan is to create public service announcements, social media campaigns and other discussion avenues promoting the legitimacy of the vaccine outreach while being cognizant of past unethical research targeting minorities, namely the Tuskegee experiment that for decades deceived African American men about being injected with syphilis.

 Commissioner Roy Brooks agrees there is a distinct need in the Black community to increase awareness and dispel myths about COVID-19 vaccine. 

"That anxiety is natural, but we have to get over that anxiety," Brooks said. "In our community, it matters who brings the message. It’s got to be someone they know someone they trust someone in whom they have confidence. I’m hoping I fit those three categories."

 While Judge Whitley and Commissioner Brooks agree on the importance of message effectiveness, they have differing views on other aspects.

"If we do it now and it’s three or four weeks before someone can get the vaccine, we are missing our moments. We haven’t got our timing right," Whitley said.

Brooks says there is no need to wait. He believes COVID-19 vaccine awareness in minority communities should begin as soon as possible.

 "There is nobody in the African-American community who wants to die from COVID-19 more than anybody in any other community," he said. "My message is take the vaccine."

Judge Whitley says the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth have their own studios to create PSAs. That will likely happen soon.