Skip to main content

UMD Part of New National Initiative that Taps Barbers and Stylists to Help Address Vaccine Hesitancy

President Biden today announced the innovative partnership between the Black Coalition Against COVID, the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, and SheaMoisture

Back to News
President Biden Delivers Remarks on the COVID-19 Response and the Vaccination Program

Washington, D.C., June 2, 2021 – President Biden today announced the formation of a White House-backed partnership between the University of Maryland’s Maryland Center for Health Equity, the Black Coalition Against COVID and the beauty and personal care brand SheaMoisture to recruit 1,000 Black-owned barbershop and hair salons nationwide to encourage people of color to get COVID-19 vaccinations—even on-site. 

“Shots at the Shop,” part of a broader Biden effort to quickly increase lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates in Black, Latino and other communities of color through community-based programs, will also train Black hairstylists and barbers to dispel myths and disinformation about COVID-19.

The initiative builds upon the Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR) campaign, a culturally tailored, community-based intervention developed at the UMD School of Public Health by Stephen B. Thomas, PhD, director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity. 

“For the last 15 years, our research has shown how Black barbers and stylists are an important asset to the health of the community. It took a pandemic for people to recognize how important it is to be in communities and build trust,” said Thomas, a professor of health policy and management. “It is my hope that Shots at the Shop is the beginning of truly recognizing the role that barbers and stylists can play in promoting health and preventing disease. We need to stay there to address the underlying health conditions, like hypertension, cancer, and diabetes that have made people of color vulnerable to this pandemic.”

Participating barbershops and salons will take a four-hour training course to become volunteer community health workers. The course will be delivered online through the University of Maryland, using national public health and medical experts along with barbers and stylists who have already achieved Certified Community Health Worker status. Once trained, some salons and barbershops will also become COVID vaccination sites. SheaMoisture, an African American-founded company, is providing a $1,000 stipend to each participating shop.

It took a pandemic for people to recognize how important it is to be in communities and build trust. It is my hope that Shots at the Shop is the beginning of truly recognizing the role that barbers and stylists can play in promoting health and preventing disease. 

Stephen B. Thomas, PhD Professor and Director, Center for Health Equity

“Hair salons and barbershops are important micro-community centers,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, founding member of the Black Coalition Against COVID. “We are at a critical stage in the fight against this pandemic and we need all hands on deck if we are going to protect Black and Brown health and survival. Barbers and stylists are at the top of the list in terms of engagement right now.”

After providing relief and recovery grants in 2020 to ensure Black-owned businesses survived the economic crisis, SheaMoisture has expanded their community commerce initiative to support Shots at the Shop by providing $1,000 grants to each beauty salon and barbershop owner in an effort to help them re-open with vaccine confidence and low incidence.

“SheaMoisture is a brand that stands ready to support the Black community. Upon hearing that Black Americans comprise only 8.5% of those vaccinated in the U.S., we saw that as an urgent need to act,” said Cara Sabin, CEO of SheaMoisture. “We are proud to work together with the White House and U.S. Department of Health, Black Coalition Against COVID, and University of Maryland Center for Health Equity through the Shots at the Shop initiative to transform vaccine hesitancy into vaccine confidence. By providing 1,000 businesses with $1,000 grants, for a total of $1 million, we hope this will bring the necessary educational and material resources to Black communities across the U.S. in a safe, efficient, and convenient manner.”

The Shots at the Shop initiative was announced and discussed at the June 2, 2021 town hall hosted by

About the University of Maryland School of Public Health's Center for Health Equity
The University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing a better state of health for the diverse populations of Maryland and beyond. Accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the school is ranked 20th among all public health schools by US News and World Report (2022 ranking). The school’s Maryland Center for Health Equity, a national leader in the effort to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity, engages in innovative research, teaching and service with local communities. One of its signature projects, Health Advocates in Reach and Research (aka HAIR), engages barbershops and beauty salons as culturally relevant portals for health education and delivery of public health and medical services in the community. 
Connect with UMD Public Health: Twitter l FacebookLinkedIn l Instagram

About the Black Coalition Against COVID
The Black Coalition Against COVID is a Washington, D.C.-based community initiative that seeks to provide trustworthy, science-based, information curated on behalf of and for the Black community about COVID-19 and the vaccine development process in an effort to help save Black lives at the national and local levels. For more information about BCAC, visit Follow BCAC on Twitter at @BCAgainstCOVID and on Facebook at

About SheaMoisture                                                                   
SheaMoisture is committed to serving those who have been underserved. Shea butter is one of the brand’s core ingredients, praised for its hydrating and nourishing properties. As part of their Community Commerce business model, SheaMoisture partners with women-led co-ops in Northern Ghana to source their namesake shea butter. With the core belief that commerce can bring true economic independence and empower women to break cycles of poverty, the brand further reinvests into both the co-ops and the communities it serves throughout the U.S. SheaMoisture continues to create economic opportunities for women and other minority entrepreneurs in its ecosystem with engaging events, investment funds and educational programs. SheaMoisture is a global beauty leader in the hair care, bath, body, skincare, baby and men’s categories, and is distributed in retailers throughout the world. SheaMoisture is a subsidiary of Unilever. Twitter | Facebook Instagram

  • Categories
  • COVID-19
  • Press Releases
  • Departments
  • Center for Health Equity