Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the North Carolina Central University’s Advanced Center for COVID-19 Related Disparities (NCCU ACCORD) to ensure comprehensive COVID-19 information is effective in reaching underserved communities in North Carolina. The partnership aims to help everyone make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccines.
“As the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect historically marginalized communities, it is essential that we reach those most impacted,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Services and co-lead of the Historically Marginalized Population Working Group, E. Benjamin Money Jr. “By partnering with ACCORD, we are able to better ensure that we engage American Indian, African American and Latinx populations, as well as those without internet access, to build confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
NCDHHS and ACCORD have partnered on a joint survey to complement the state’s existing consumer research data and support ongoing communications efforts. The data will help inform materials and outreach efforts to provide accurate and reliable information that aligns with the needs and concerns of different communities.
“As a two-way exchange of information, this resource-sharing platform will greatly benefit all North Carolinians and help us better serve the state and its communities of color,” said Dr. Deepak Kumar, director of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI) and founder of the ACCORD program. “The partnership will support our efforts to serve as a resource for underserved communities through our network of community leaders and health partners.”
NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye stated: “NCCU’s cornerstones of ‘Truth and Service’ are demonstrated by our work in communities across the state and our leadership in health disparities research. This partnership with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will reach individuals in areas where the impact of COVID has hit hardest and hopefully contribute to bending the pandemic’s curve in North Carolina.”
NCCU’s ACCORD program is a multidisciplinary project that aims to facilitate COVID-19 testing in underserved communities and conduct research on attitudes about vaccine hesitancy and the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is supported by the N.C. Policy Collaboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with funding from the North Carolina Coronavirus Relief Fund established by the North Carolina General Assembly.