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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

New Campaign Wants 80% Of Greater Cincinnati Population Vaccinated By July

get out the vax
Cory Sharber
"Get Out the Vax" aims to vaccinate 80% of the population of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky by July 4.

Community leaders launched a regional effort to vaccinate 80% of the population of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky by July 4.

"Get Out The Vax" weekends will take place during the second and fourth weekends in April and May. According to the Health Collaborative, there will be more than 20,000 appointments across the Cincinnati region spread out across 20 providers. Free Metro and TANK rides will be available for the Get Out the Vax weekends, as well as free Lyft rides.

Some of the effort's partners include Vineyard Cincinnati Church and the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, who are working to fight vaccine hesitancy amongst Black and Latino/a/x populations.

According to a March NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 73% of Black people and 70% of white people said they either planned to get a coronavirus vaccine or had done so already; 25% of Black respondents and 28% of white respondents said they did not plan to get a shot.

Latino/a/x respondents were slightly more likely to say they would not get vaccinated at 37%, compared with 63% who either had or intended to get a vaccine.

Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
Jenny Sasson, a pastor at Vineyard Cincinnati Church, encouraged the Latino/a/x community in the region to get vaccinated.

Jenny Sasson is a pastor at Vineyard Cincinnati. She says as a Latina, hesitancy has greatly impacted her community. As a community leader, she's encouraging people to love one another as their neighbor.

"Small things done with great love will change the world," Sasson said. "And this is more of [an] act of kindness towards ourselves and towards our community, so we need to inform ourselves and to take those next steps of action to return to being a healthy community."

The church, along with Sterling Rapid Response, will provide vaccines at the Tri-County Mall this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
ULGSO President and CEO Eddie Koen says getting more people of color vaccinated is the best way to combat vaccine hesitancy.

The Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio will also offer vaccinations at its headquarters in Avondale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. President and CEO Eddie Koen says vaccinations are about equity, getting access to people who either don't have access or are most vulnerable for COVID-19 complications.

"The best way to combat vaccine hesitancy is not only education, but it's to get more people of color vaccinated," Koen said.

For more information about ULGSO's vaccinations, text VACCINE to 797979.

In the 15-county region, 35% of those who are eligible have been vaccinated. People above the age of 16 can get vaccinated in both Ohio and Kentucky.

The first Get Out the Vax weekend will be April 10-11.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.