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Once hospitalized with COVID-19, Dellwood CEO pushes to spread information about vaccinations in salons

"Being so personally affected by COVID-19 has led me to be on the forefront to push vaccination"

DELLWOOD, Mo. — COVID-19 cases keep rising, but the number of people getting vaccinated is not keeping up.

Vaccination efforts have been especially difficult in communities of color, in particular among Black children. On Wednesday, County Executive Sam Page shared some numbers explaining the disparity.

"Black children 12-15 are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as white children. Forty-seven percent of white children have already started the vaccination process and only 16% of Black children have begun," he said. "That's why we're using as many resources as we can on vaccine education and vaccine access focusing on areas that vaccination rates are low."

The ZIP codes with the highest case counts are concentrated in north county.

One strategy to increase vaccination is through a partnership with north county barbershops and salons for its new initiative called 'Sleeves Up STL.'

The Ultimate Cosmetology and Barber Academy in Dellwood is one of those partners.

It educates those in the trade of cosmetic arts.

The academy isn't just teaching future employers, but those in the seats too.

"It’s imperative to connect with our community to start the conversation," CEO Jacqueline Brooks said. "Many people believe their barbers are like their therapists and counselors. They trust their judgment and why not have the conversation right here."

For Brooks, she too had doubts in the beginning.

"There is a myth that many people are afraid of in the African American community when it comes to vaccination. We went by the myths, this can’t be real, where did it come from, we were questioning it." Brooks explains. 

Yet, catching the virus, made her cut off those thoughts.

"Myself and my husband were both hospitalized. My husband almost experienced near-death episodes. Being so personally affected by COVID-19 has led me to be on the forefront to push vaccination," she says. 

That's why the conversation has begun here, talking to parents and loved ones.

It's a place where people can let their hair down and be able to chat in a space about this crucial issue at hand.

The county is also launching another campaign called Revive STL.

It's a public education and advertisement campaign that will start in the next few days.

Beyond St. Louis County, since May, African-Americans have made up 80% of newly reported COVID-19 cases in the city of St. Louis.