Sandtown salon owner, Tiarra “Tee” Davis, discusses her decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine and why she is encouraging others in her community to do the same
Baltimore, Md.—Tiarra “Tee” Davis, 38, is the owner-operator of 1400 Beauty Bar in Baltimore. Davis is the third generation in her family to be raised in the 1400 block of Mosher St. and has run her salon in the neighborhood for the past three years. As a nurse for 20 years, a mother and a local business owner, Davis got the COVID-19 vaccine to protect her community and lead by example.
“Many people in this community do not have access to the information and resources they need to stay healthy and safe, especially when it comes to getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Davis. “I feel a sense of responsibility to give back and speak up on behalf of Sandtown.”
A long-time member of Kaiser Permanente’s Good Health & Great Hair program, which offers free health education and services through local barbershops and salons, Davis has now joined a new partnership between Kaiser Permanente and the Maryland Department of Health’s GoVax program that seeks to get more Marylanders in communities of color vaccinated against COVID-19 by using the same approach in hair salons and barber shops.
Davis says that when the vaccine was first approved, she knew she had to get it as soon as she was eligible. Since then, Davis said she felt called to ensure everyone in her community learns about the vaccine to help them make a confident decision. She has spoken with many clients, family members and friends who have felt hesitant about the vaccine.
“It’s not enough for healthcare providers to be spreading the word about vaccination; we need the involvement of the entire community,” said Dr. Mona Gahunia, infectious diseases specialist for Kaiser Permanente. “GoVAX meets people where they work and where they live, in settings that are familiar, where they are able to have a conversation with community leaders who they trust, and that is how we are vaccinating more people and getting closer to putting the pandemic behind us.”
Davis’s own daughter, Keairra Morris, 20, was unsure about the vaccine at first. “I was so hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine because I just really didn’t know what could happen to me or how I would feel after, or what I was even putting into my body,” said Morris. “My mother and grandmother really convinced me that it was one of the best choices I can make to build my immunity against COVID-19.”
Using her background in healthcare and the information she’s learned through GoVAX, Davis provided her daughter with facts about the vaccine to empower her to make the decision to protect herself and those around her. In July, Davis hosted her first vaccine clinic at her 1400 Beauty Bar and was thrilled that her daughter along with 29 other community members felt comfortable and confident in getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“In my conversations with patients, friends and family members, I’ve learned that many vaccine-hesitant people just want to have their concerns addressed in a kind, empathetic way,” said Dr. Tinisha Cheatham, family medicine and physician in chief in Baltimore for Kaiser Permanente. “I listen and reassure them of the facts. For example, the technology used to develop the COVID-19 vaccine is not new; it has been studied for over a decade. We know that these vaccines are saving lives by keeping people safe from severe COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalizations.”
“My salon provides a safe environment – with masks, frequent cleaning, hand sanitizer. Most importantly, people feel comfortable here. My community knows I am a strong leader, a great resource and that I speak from a place of pride and love,” said Davis. “If I can provide facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and point people to helpful resources, I can help lead folks to make good decisions and stop the spread of COVID-19.”
In addition to keeping her neighbors and family safe, Davis knows that the COVID-19 vaccine is critical to keeping small businesses like hers running. As a small business owner, she wants to let other entrepreneurs know that getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do so can save lives and keep the Baltimore community healthy and well.
“GoVAX is such an excellent opportunity for business owners to contribute in a significant way. We know that when small businesses thrive, the community thrives and people thrive,” said Davis. “Getting the vaccine is the only way to keep our people healthy and help our businesses and community get back to normal.”
The GoVAX partnership is part of Kaiser Permanente’s Good Health & Great Hair program, which brings critical health services, testing, and screenings to communities in Maryland. Learn more, get involved, or get vaccinated: kp.org/govax
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