DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Parkland Health and Hospital System is working to tackle the issue of vaccine hesitancy in minority communities.

It is using a combination of technology and old-school word of mouth.

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“We knew the disparities existed before the pandemic,” said Senior Vice President of Communications and External Affairs, Mike Malaise.

His team had already started working on a plan to address the disparities back in 2019. When the pandemic hit, they knew they’d need to ramp up their efforts. They turned to well-known faces that different communities could relate to.

“Your neighbors, your faith leaders, individuals who are part of their generational family that have been in communities for years, individuals that are involved in activism, individuals from those local businesses,” said Senior Director of Community Relations Angela Morris. “We rely on them all.”

“Once we identify someone we basically speak with them, find out what was their reason behind getting the COVID vaccine, and why is it that they’re encouraging their community to get the vaccine,” said Media Specialist Brenda Rodriguez.

The people, however, were just a part of the plan. The team also needed to know where to target their efforts.

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That’s where the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation comes in.

The data scientists can pinpoint the zip codes that are most at-risk.

“Early on the outreach was really focused on testing sites, “ said PCCI CEO Steve Miff. His team worked to figure out where to place physical locations for outreach and testing sites.

“Today we’re focusing on the vaccinations, not only where, but also understanding where are people that have not been registered, have not received the vaccine,” he said.

The hard work appears to be paying off. The team said when vaccinations started back in January, the Black and Hispanic populations were under-represented.

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Now the numbers are more on point with the Dallas County population.