For months, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has been focusing much of its attention on how to battle COVID-19 in minority communities and in medically underserved communities. 

This week NCDHHS announced another program along those lines, a new partnership with North Carolina Central University (NCCU) meant to further enhance COVID-19 outreach efforts.

One purpose of the move is to encourage people in the targeted communities to get vaccinated.

 NCCU’s new “Advanced Center for COVID-19 Related Disparities” will play a big part in the effort meant to make sure that underserved communities are getting accurate and full information about the disease and the vaccines.

According to a Tuesday, Dec. 29 press release from NCDHHS, the partnership aims to help everyone involved 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 E. Benjamin Money, Jr.,

He added that the effort  will “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.”

Among other things, NCDHHS and NCCU will conduct a survey to complement the state’s existing data and to guide new communications efforts. That data will also help shape 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 Deepak Kumar, the Director of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute and the founder of the new program at NCCU.

“The partnership will support our efforts to serve as a resource for underserved communities through our network of community leaders and health partners,” Kumar added.