Flu Fighter: Na’Sha DeRamus
Meet flu fighter Na’Sha DeRamus from Billingsley, Alabama. Na’sha is the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) flu vaccination promotion coordinator at The Wellness Coalition in Montgomery, Alabama. Na’Sha and her team educate and promote the importance of getting the influenza vaccine to combat flu complications among African American persons with both low income and low education in the census tracts they serve.
- What led you to be involved with REACH?
The Wellness Coalition (TWC) has a five year REACH cooperative agreement through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu grant provides an additional opportunity to continue to work with our targeted population to educate and promote the importance of flu vaccination. We know that people in our target area suffer from chronic conditions that can heighten their risk of complications if they contract the flu. TWC understands that this same population is skeptical about getting vaccinations due to historical events where unethical medical research was conducted on African American persons (e.g., the Tuskegee syphilis study and the case of Henrietta Lacks). That’s why it is important for TWC to help defy myths about the vaccine to help end vaccine hesitancy. We want everyone to feel comfortable and safe when getting vaccinated.
- How are you involved in flu now?
I promote vaccinations through training trusted spokespersons such as Wellness Navigators that come in contact with our target audience daily. I also connect vaccine providers with venues that hold free mobile flu clinics in our target areas, and I educate the public by providing informational sessions to health ministry leaders on the importance of getting vaccinated. We were even able to be interviewed on the Alabama State University’s radio station WVAS (90.7 FM). This interview was powerful because the university is very prominent in the African American community in Montgomery, Alabama, and the station also reaches nearby Lowndes and Macon Counties, which also make up areas that cover our targeted audience.
- What is your goal with REACH?
My goal for this project is to educate the community and connect venues with providers to partner with to keep our targeted population free of flu. I would also like to encourage and help to get as many people vaccinated as possible. It is very important to us here at TWC to help debunk the myths about vaccinations, so in years to come people will be encouraged to get vaccinated. We want to inform everyone that contracting the flu is very serious, because people still die from complications from contracting the virus, and many people don’t realize that.