African-Amerian men and communities in Madison and across the United States are continuing to have trouble accessing appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine shots.
With that in mind, the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association’s Men’s Clinic will provide vaccines for Black males on Tuesday, April 6, noon-3 p.m. Fitchburg Family Pharmacy will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for individuals 18 and over, which is a one-shot vaccine and the men will not have to return for another shot. The Pfizer vaccine will be available for those 16 years of age and older.
At the Men’s Health and Education Center, located on the west side of Madison inside JP Hair Design, Madison’s largest Black barbershop, the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association provides important health information and resources to men and offers vital health services like blood-pressure screening, diabetes monitoring and flu shots. Aaron Perry is a community health advocate for African American men and the founder of Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association
“We have been very actively campaigning to various health systems in Madison and Dane County to become a vaccination site mainly because of all the surveys we’ve done and we know that the Black male clientele at the Black barbershops that we work with have expressed a strong intention of getting the vaccine,” Perry tells Madison365. “When we first started talking to the men, there was not a lot of distrust that we were hearing; we were hearing more and more that guys were just paranoid with the process.”
The Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association decided to counter that by providing real clear, honest information about the process.
“That seemed to keep everyone motivated and fired up to following through and getting the vaccination,” he says. “But we kept hearing this growing frustration that guys could not get an appointment to be vaccinated. One of the reasons that I really aggressively moved on this is that we know – from working the past four years at the Men’s Health Center – if we don’t respond in an adequate time that some guys don’t respond. They just move on.”
The Fitchburg Family Pharmacy stepped up to help, too, providing the COVID-19 vaccination shots.
“For us, the mission of our pharmacy has always been to meet the community wherever they are, so this is another example of how we can do that,” Thad Schumacher, pharmacist and owner of Fitchburg Family Pharmacy, tells Madison365. “For us, going out in the community and taking care of people is rewarding and I’m glad that we are part of the solution to the pandemic that we have here.
“Aaron is really dedicated to the community in helping people stay healthy and safe. So we will match up perfectly with that,” he adds.
Perry, who was honored in 2018 as one of Time Magazine’s “50 Most Influential People in Health Care,” has gotten support on providing COVID vaccinations from Black barbershops throughout Dane County.
“I talked with Jeff Patterson of JP Hair Design, Erin Hall of Resilient Hair Design and Jason Boatright of B. Right Barbershop and Beauty in Sun Prairie. We are all on board,” Perry says. “In addition to that, we are reaching out to all of the Black barbershops and extending this invitation to them and their clientele.
“My vision and my goal is to vaccinate 90 percent of all Black male barbershop clientele. It’s so important that we continue to have goals like this because, without it, there would be a lot of guys who continue to be locked out of the process and frustrated,” he adds. “This is part of our overall goal to keep Black men healthy and to improve their outlook on health disparities. That’s my mission and this will definitely help.”
Perry adds that he is excited to announce that he is moving forward with adding his second Men’s Health Center inside B. Right Barbershop in Sun Prairie.
“We anticipate opening the doors in mid-May. That’s our timeline. We are really excited about that,” Perry says. “That will also help move us closer to our goals.
“There are 15,600 Black men in Dane County. We account for 6 percent of the male population. We just surpassed serving 5,100 men. We know that we’ve already reached 30 percent of the Black male population with these preventative screenings,” Perry adds. “With the inclusion of the B. Right Barbershop, we’re now focused on getting around 45 percent of the Black male population in Dane County. If we can keep reaching more men, ultimately, we will begin to see this life expectancy increase.”
The Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association’s Men’s Clinic, 584 Grand Canyon Drive, will provide vaccines for Black males on Tuesday, April 6, noon-3 p.m. If you are interested, send an e-mail to Joseph Roy, director of communications and program coordination for Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org.