Families can receive free food among other amenities in exchange for a COVID-19 vaccine or test at an upcoming health fair at Houghton Park this Saturday.

The Black Health Fair will also host musical performances, games, raffles and activities such as yoga, groove fitness and line dancing.

The Black Health Collaborative—a group of mental health providers and other community groups that serve Black families—is hosting the fair to tailor COVID-19 education and outreach within a community that has fallen behind other groups in vaccination rates citywide.

In Long Beach, Black residents make up 13% of the population, yet Black adults account for just 8% of residents over 18 who are vaccinated, which has some experts worried as the more transmissible and “widespread” delta COVID-19 variant quickly spreads across the city.

Racism, housing insecurity and a lack of educational and economic opportunities have led to health inequities among Black communities, the group stated. A common example health experts often point to is the 1932 “Tuskegee effect,” when public health officials studied 600 Black men with syphilis for decades without telling them about it or treating them for the disease, which ultimately killed many of them.

Historical health inequities among Black communities have allowed some residents to grow up with underlying health conditions, which were highlighted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Amber Johnson, the collaborative’s coordinator, said health education, especially around vaccinations, has to be culturally sensitive and must take into account the historical inequities Black residents have faced.

“We believe Black residents have a right to question any medical treatment. There was a time in history where they did not have a choice,” Johnson said in a statement. “We are simply advocating for education and access to COVID-19 vaccines so that residents are empowered to make informed decisions about their health and health care.”

The event will take place alongside another event called “Joints for Jabs LBC,” however, the two are not related, Johnson said.

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