Vaccine hesitancy must not be allowed to widen the racial and ethnic disparities already exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic (see go.nature.com/2k3kpmc). Health organizations and technology firms should discuss and share their decisions with relevant communities, who are often astute at conveying health messages to their members.
This would give communities more power to communicate in a culturally appropriate way and by use of familiar faces. When community members, especially local health-care providers, educate and advise each other about vaccines, acceptance increases (S. C. Quinn et al. Health Educ. Res. 32, 473–486; 2017).
Communities often use stories and art to embody emotions and immediacy, and to convey information and ideas in ways that statistics cannot. Black Americans who have survived breast cancer have used this tactic to encourage participation in breast screening; other successes include stopping smoking and managing hypertension and diabetes (A. F. Lipsey et al. Patient Educ. Couns. 103, 1922–1934; 2020).
These stories and expressions are best delivered in person at venues such as community health centres and churches, or at local events. Although technology alone cannot resolve the inequities of the pandemic, communities already have their own ‘virtual-friendly’ educational tools.