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SACRAMENTO, CA - Tens of thousands of health care providers have united with other frontline workers and more than two dozen state and national organizations to launch #ThisIsOurShot, a campaign to build trust in COVID vaccines. As the nation’s vaccine supply increases, getting accurate information to those considering vaccination can help achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible.
“Watching someone you know get vaccinated first makes you feel more comfortable getting vaccinated yourself. That’s powerful!” said Dr. Hussain Lalani, a Dallas-based internal medicine resident and co-founder of #ThisIsOurShot. “But we also know that misinformation is circulating online and failing to combat it can be lethal. #ThisIsOurShot is built on the premise that getting shots in arms is a team activity and we all have a role to play.”
The campaign, which grew organically as front-line workers turned to social media to document their own experiences receiving COVID vaccines, offers an opportunity for those with questions about the vaccines to network with health experts and others with personal experience getting vaccinated to provide facts and help allay fears.
“As a doctor, I answer patients’ questions every day,” said Dr. La Tanya R. Hines, a southern California-based obstetrician and gynecologist and leader in the #ThisIsOurShot movement. “But as a vaccine recipient, I have a very personal experience that I can share as well. I had questions. I had doubts. I did my research, got my shots and now I want others to also.”
The campaign also advocates for equitable distribution and administration of vaccines and helps address historical and culturally specific barriers to vaccine acceptance. In the process, the group is working to empower patients while building deeper trust between patients and their health care providers.
“We know there are deep disparities and inequities throughout our healthcare system. Issues of equitable access and mistrust are not limited to vaccines,” said Dr. Hines. “By working to strengthen that trust through vaccine distribution, we believe we can create lasting changes in the way we talk about, prioritize and deliver health care to all Americans.”
In addition to empowering physicians, nurses, other healthcare providers and trusted messengers in communities of color, #ThisIsOurShot is working to develop a parallel Spanish-language campaign, #VacunateYa.
“Los latinos como parte de los trabajadores de primera línea, hemos sacrificado tanto para mantener nuestras comunidades abiertas mientras nos exponemos y a nuestras familias al COVID. También desgraciadamente tenemos acceso inconsistente a la atención médica. Y no podemos olvidar que hasta la fecha hemos tenido menos acceso de tener acceso a las vacunas a comparación a otros grupos comunitarios”, dijo el Dr. Ilan Shapiro, Pediatra y director médico bilingüe de Educación para la Salud y Bienestar en Los Ángeles y el condado de Orange. “Debemos abordar todas estas barreras que hacen que mantenerse saludable sea un desafío en nuestras comunidades. #VacunateYa busca garantizar que la falta de acceso a información sobre las vacunas COVID no se convierta en una barrera más para la equidad en salud".
“Right now, we are in a race between the virus and the vaccines,” Dr. Lalani added. “We want to ensure that as shots arrive in a community, there are arms ready to receive them.”
#ThisIsOurShot was founded by Dr. Lalani, Dr. Atul Nakhasi of Los Angeles, and Dr. Alex McDonald of the Inland Empire (California). The Executive Committee includes: Dr. Jay Bhatt, an internist in Chicago, IL; Dr. Sunny Jha, an anesthesiologist in Houston, TX; Dr. Vicki Chan, an ophthalmologist in Los Angeles, CA; Dr. Anna Yap, an emergency medicine resident in Los Angeles, CA; Dr. Asha Shajahan, a family physician in Detroit, MI; and Dr. Nicole Baldwin, a pediatrician in Cincinnati, OH. The California Medical Association provides in-kind support to administer the campaign. CMA’s Foundation, Physicians for a Healthy California, serves as the fiscal sponsor to facilitate and manage #ThisIsOurShot donations.
#ThisIsOurShot will be co-hosting a free webinar along with U.S. PIRG and Doctors for America, “The Pandemic at One Year: A Race Between Vaccines and Variants.” Those interested can register at bit.ly/VaccinesVariants.