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Actors Jaleel White, Akbar Gbajabiamila Share COVID-19 Vaccine Experiences and encourage Black and African Americans to Protect Themselves by Getting Vaccinated

Date: December 17, 2021
Number: NR21-361
Contact: Chanel Maryland: (323) 469-8680 ext. 242 or chanelmaryland@lagrant.com

SACRAMENTO – Actor and producer Jaleel White, and former NFL player and host of "The Talk" and "American Ninja Warrior" Akbar Gbajabiamila, are partnering with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The well-known celebrities are sharing their COVID-19 vaccine experiences through candid conversations to help reduce hesitancy in Black and African American communities across the state. 

The partnership is part of the state's Vaccinate ALL 58 campaign, which aims to provide safe, effective and free COVID-19 vaccines to all Californians regardless of immigration or insurance status. 

"We must acknowledge the distrust and skepticism that exists between many African Americans and people of color and the medical community due to historic injustices, '' said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. "It is important to create a safe space for the community to discuss and address concerns they have around COVID-19 vaccines. We are so grateful to Jaleel and Akbar for their commitment to honest conversations about what it personally has felt like to overcome long-held fears around vaccines, and finally making the decision to get vaccinated. These candid discussions help get to the heart of the matter in a thoughtful way, while reducing vaccine hesitancy in their community." 

When White and Gbajabiamila first heard about vaccinations for COVID-19, they were admittedly hesitant. Now, both are fully vaccinated and feel safer knowing they have protection against COVID-19. In their conversation, both men share their reasons for hesitation, why they chose to receive the vaccine, and the steps taken to become vaccinated with the hopes of encouraging those who have not yet received the vaccine to do so, specifically in the African American community. 

"Growing up in Los Angeles, there was this belief that society didn't care about what happened to Black people medically," said Gbajabiamila. "Now that I'm vaccinated, I want to keep it real with my community and encourage everyone to protect themselves." 

The four-part conversation details their vaccination journeys, including their experiences with mild side effects, getting a booster, and why getting the facts is important for someone to make their decision on getting vaccinated. 

"No one should be shamed or condemned for being hesitant and this is exactly why I want to share the story of how I came to be vaccinated," said White. "None of us have ever had to navigate through a pandemic before. So, helping people get the facts, with understanding for their personal experiences, and doing that with grace, is how we are going to get through this together. I hope my story will inspire and help others get to a place where they feel good about getting vaccinated." 

In addition to the series of one-on-one conversations, the partnership also includes a comedic skit written by White that supports the Vaccinate ALL 58 campaign and addresses concerns surrounding vaccinations and booster shots. All videos will be shared on the digital and social media platforms found below: 

Please visit MyTurn.ca.gov or call 833-422-4255 to find a vaccine nearby and to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness. 

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