As part of a White House initiative, the National Association of County and City Health Officials is is planning to help train Black-owned barber shops and hair salons to provide accurate vaccination information and even provide vaccines where possible, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of NACCHO, told CNN on Wednesday.
The White House said throughout the month of June, each participating shop will help share information about vaccines with customers, display educational materials, and some will even host on-site vaccination events in partnership with local providers.
“The role that NACCHO’s going to play is trying to match barber shops and beauty shops with local health departments, so that we can forge a relationship there and figure out if any of these business locations can also become vaccination sites or what it would take for that to happen,” Freeman said.
“In partnership, health departments may be able to work with these groups to provide health education to customers around vaccination or even supply a public health nurse,” she added. “Local health departments stand ready to work in partnership to leverage these critical trusted community members to address vaccine education, talk about any hesitancy or lack of information, and help facilitate getting vaccinations or clinics to these businesses.”
In the years to come, as racial segregation laws limited the spaces where Black Americans could gather, the barber shop served as a safe meeting space for the Black community. In barber shops, Black men could speak openly and honestly about a range of topics, including their health — and that seems to continue today.
Now, “it’s not uncommon for barbers and beauticians to be utilized in different ways in the community for spreading good health messages — that’s something we’ve seen happen a lot,” Freeman said, adding that the coronavirus vaccine “work is a natural extension of something that experience has shown can make a difference in how black and brown communities learn about the vaccine and get vaccinated.”