The California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA), along with Antelope Valley school districts, faith leaders and community-based organizations, have launched a campaign to increase vaccination awareness among African Americans and other at-risk groups living in the AV.

The new campaign, “Let’s VAX, THEN Relax,” is funded by Centers for Disease Control Foundation and will run through mid-April 2022. It will utilize schools, churches, community-based organizations and businesses as information hubs about COVID-19, its impact on the community and the need to get vaccinated.

Outreach activities will be held throughout the AV, including Town-Hall-style meetings that enable residents to listen to the facts about COVID, ask questions of medical professionals and hear stories from residents of all ages, who have been vaccinated or impacted by COVID-19.

“The number of unvaccinated African-American and Latinx residents is significant, and lags behind those in other communities, according to LA County Department of Public Health statistics,” said Dr. Michele Bowers, CAAASA president-elect and superintendent of the Lancaster School District. “We see this new vaccine awareness campaign as an extension of ongoing efforts within the AV area to provide at-risk residents with valuable information to protect themselves from the virus. We are hopeful the ‘Let’s Vax, THEN Relax’ campaign will help undecided residents understand the need to take COVID-19 seriously, even though many of the facets of everyday life have reopened.”

“We are happy to partner with CAAASA in this effort to raise awareness of COVID-19,” said Rev. Alonzo Braggs, pastor of People’s AME Zion Church. “Congregations throughout the AV have indicated a willingness to do whatever they can to reduce vaccine hesitancy.”

Braggs and fellow pastors in March conducted an outreach event at Palmdale’s Livingstone Cathedral where they registered some 350 people for vaccinations.

“We felt that conducting the event at a minority church would increase accessibility for people of color,” Braggs explained. “It was very successful in informing people about the importance of getting vaccinated. It was a ministry opportunity that we were very happy to coordinate and present.”

Founded in 1993, CAAASA, an education equity and advocacy organization, works through collaboration, network-building and direct community engagement to promote the success of African-American, Latinx and other underserved California K-12 public school students and families. CAAASA’s members include school superintendents, administrators, teachers and other educational professionals from throughout California; many of whom live and/or work in the Antelope Valley area.