Young Black and Latino residents continue to have the lowest rates of vaccination in L.A. County and some of the highest rates of infection. To reach this group, Cedars-Sinai has launched a campaign called "Doses of Hope."
Dr. Merije Chukumerije and others at Cedars-Sinai are part of the outreach program, which is using its platform to help save lives.
"Particularly in the young Black and Latino population, we're seeing patients that are still unvaccinated and they are the ones that are overwhelming the hospital system," Chukumerije said.
The "Doses of Hope" campaign offers a series of videos which can be found on YouTube and social media that detail doctor's experiences in regard to the COVID-19 vaccine.
"The message is just as important as the messenger," Chukumerije explained saying that the mistrust among the Black community comes from a justified place. This is why incentives, such as gift cards, tend to backfire.
"Offering them a piece of candy to a baby to come closer -- that's the way that it comes off, I feel like," Chukumerije said.
He added it's important to understand everyone has different reasons for being hesitant. Getting factual answers from someone they trust is key amidst a surging COVID-19 variant, but first you must listen.
According to Chukumerije, the program is important as it helps identify whether it is truly an opportunity to reach out to these groups and build trust within the community.
Dr. Chukumerije's wife got her vaccine at the start of her pregnancy and all is well. Right now, three out of four pregnant women are unvaccinated. Chukumerije's advice is to safeguard the ones you love.
"You can live the best life that you want to live and continue to create to grow your family and do things outside if you're protected," he said.