African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis county.
Episode 12: How To Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones During This Flu Season
Co-moderators Shannon W. Jones and Jacki Hecht, interviewed Ms. Raisa Charles-Willock, certified educator with Austin Public Health Immunization Program. They discussed what influenza (flu) is, who it affects, its impact on the African American community, the flu vaccine, and why it's important to get a flu shot.
Ms. Charles-Willock acknowledged, “Our communities of color face greater health disparities...the African American community faces disproportionate outcomes. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) NIVDP Resource Kit (PDF), the influenza (flu) vaccination rate among African Americans is at 35.6% and our “Healthy People 2020” goals have a target of 90%. We know that African Americans are not getting immunized from the flu as much as they should.” There are historical issues and concerns within the African American community that may influence the decision to not get immunized.
Mr. Jones highlighted experiences such as Tuskegee and beyond where the African American community has been used in experiments with vaccines. He said, “There has been a long history of not wanting to participate in any vaccine program for our population or any other population.” Therefore, additional outreach efforts are needed to educate, inform, and to assure the African American community that the vaccine is safe, efficacious, and makes a difference in their outcomes. Mr. Jones added, “It’s important that we do this educational program and target interventions to educate our community about the importance of getting the influenza (flu) vaccine each and every year so that we can limit the numbers of deaths, particularly this year because of COVID...”
Flu vaccines are available now at your local pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and clinics. Ms. Charles-Willock highlighted, “If you are insured you can visit VaccineFinder to find out where to access the flu shot.” Austin Public Health offers the flu vaccine by appointment, please call 512-972-5520. You can find out more about Austin Public Health “Big Shots and Shots for Tots” by visiting Austin Public Health Immunization Clinics. Ms. Charles-Willock also stated, “If someone comes to the clinic, we do not deny them services just because they can’t afford to pay.”
To learn more about the difference between the flu and COVID, and what we can do to keep our selves safe during flu session please access the resources below:
- Flu Vaccination Resources:
- For the latest flu information and where to get your flu shot visit the City of Austin, Central Health, or Vaccine Finder.
- For a flu vaccine appointment through Austin Public Health, please call 512-972-5520.
- For those without insurance or Medicaid, click here to view Austin Public Health: Immunization Clinics (PDF) hours and locations.
- Community Resources:
- Austin/Travis County Crisis Hotline: 512-472-HELP
- YMCA of Austin: Resource hub for home exercise options, educational resources, and guides.
- Parenting for Lifelong Health: COVID-19 24/7 Parenting
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 24/7 Hotline, and Chat
- Love Is Respect Hotline: 24/7 Hotline, Text, and Chat - Resource for youth to prevent and end dating abuse
- Texas Health & Human Services: List of crisis hotline number by Texas counties
- Disaster Distress Hotline: 24/7 Hotline and Text
- National Crisis Text Line
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 27/7 Hotline and Chat
- Veterans Crisis Line: 24/7 Hotline, Text, and Chat
- COVID-19 Resources:
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