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'Just Been Tested' Is One Of Many Community Organizations Tackling COVID Vaccine Disparities One Conversation At A Time

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Nearly 70% of all New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

Still, in some neighborhoods, that number drops to below 50%.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas looks at the efforts to combat lingering hesitancy.

Just Been Tested, or JBT for short, brought its mobile unit to Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn.

To passersby, Evan Blair and Juan Giraldo first make a pitch for COVID testing, but they hope it just opens the door for a deeper conversation.

JBT is one of many community organizations identified by the city to go into neighborhoods with low vaccination rates. In the Ocean Hill/Brownsville community, about 55% of residents are fully vaccinated, trailing behind the city average of nearly 70%.


"Things that the CDC and DOH produce and pass down are often viewed with some degree of skepticism," said Blair, of Just Been Tested.

Black residents are the least vaccinated at 46%, white residents follow at just 53%.

Blair and Giraldo are addressing hesitancy, with no judgment.

(Credit: CBS2)

"We plug ourselves in that game of telephone and provide the right information. We're trying to get number one's message back into the loop," Giraldo said.

And city leaders say that, coupled with a television PSA campaign, a $100 incentive, and mandates, are working.

"Parents coming and seeing their kids getting vaccinated and seeing how important that is is going to encourage more family member," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.


For now, Shakeara Jones gets tested regularly, although she's been getting pressure from her family to get the shot.

"Two of my friends got tested and they ended up catching COVID like right after, so that made me nervous," Jones said.

But a conversation with Blair and Giraldo helped address some of her concerns, and maybe even influenced a change of heart.

"Every place is requiring a vaccine card. You can't travel, you can't do anything. So it's just like, I have to do it," Jones said.

While many people briskly walk by JBT's table, it's genuine conversations that could make the difference in protecting the entire community, one person at a time.

JBT also offers to make vaccination appointments for interested clients to remove barriers to getting the shot.

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