Shots at the Shop

University of Maryland — Goal 2 Initiative Shots at the Shop

Shots at the Shop is a program to engage 1,000 Black-owned barbershops and hair salons nationwide to act as health advocates. Participants assist their clients in making informed COVID-related decisions, dispelling misinformation and hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics in their shops. Lead by Stephen B. Thomas, PhD, director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity, and building on the Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR) campaign, the program is made possible by a partnership between the University of Maryland’s Maryland Center for Health Equity, the Black Coalition Against COVIDthe National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the beauty and personal care brand SheaMoisture.

Barbers and stylists from across the U.S. are invited to apply for a $1,000 grant provided by SheaMoisture to support this critical community outreach. There are many barriers when it comes to access to vaccines for underserved communities. For those who are undocumented, they may be afraid someone will report them to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements, or they might think they are not eligible to get the vaccine since they are not U.S. citizens. Shots at the Shop  help to create trusted spaces to increase vaccination and reduce hesitancy, and ultimately improve health outcomes.

Initiative Differentiators

The program showcases partnerships between the University of Maryland’s Maryland Center for Health Equity, the Black Coalition Against COVID, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the beauty and personal care brand SheaMoisture. As the United States enters what is likely to be the toughest stretch of its ambitious immunization effort, health officials are moving away from mass vaccination sites and focusing instead on small clinics like The Shop Spa that rely on word-of-mouth and use trusted, often nontraditional messengers. This program is positioned to make an impact by leveraging the power of community relationships across a national scale.

Key Interventions and Milestones

The rate of COVID vaccinations among people of color lags behind that of white people. Access barriers are one reason, and so are negative experiences with the medical profession that breed distrust. Stephen Thomas, who directs the University of Maryland’s Center for Health Equity believes Black-run barbershops and hair salons may be able to counter some of this.

In New York City, where Shots at the Shop has several participating partners, COVID put Black and Latino New Yorkers in the hospital at nearly twice the rate of their white or Asian counterparts. Black New Yorkers have the lowest vaccination rate citywide, with less than one-third fully inoculated. Just 42% of Hispanic or Latino New Yorkers can say the same, compared with 46% of white residents. Organizers estimate that salon participants have talked about vaccines to as many as 13,000 clients in New York and New Jersey.

Participants can apply for the grant by 1) registering for the initiative2) attending or watching an entertaining and interactive orientation session, 3) completing a ~2.5 hour online Rapid Response Training Program called "From Vaccine Hesitancy to Vaccine Confidence", or 4) conducting a vaccination-related event with support from your local public health officials, and 5) completing a Certificate and Event Upload Form. At the conclusion of these steps, participants receive the $1,000 grant, within a three-week time period, to begin making a real difference in the lives of their customers and community.

Expected Impact

The program aims to expand the vaccination rate in Prince George's County, especially in Hyattsville's 20783 zip code—a COVID-19 hot spot. Prince George’s County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, with only about a third of the community fully vaccinated, according to Maryland’s coronavirus dashboard as of September 2021. We intend to increase the vaccination rate in the city and transfer this project to different areas within the state. By creating a trusted space for vaccination, we can improve health outcomes for underserved populations.