'Black Panther' helps children become vaccine heroes at Mpls. school

A nurse prepared COVID-19 vaccines.
Kelly Robinson, a nurse and the president of the Black Nurses Rock-Twin Cities chapter, prepares COVID-19 vaccines during a pop-up youth vaccination clinic in Minneapolis on Friday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated: 7:40 p.m.

A north Minneapolis school decided to take a superhero approach to vaccinating children against COVID-19. Volunteers wore costumes from Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie and, in at least some cases, distracted the 5- to 11-year-olds.

There was serious motivation behind the entertainment, said an organizer of the event at Best Academy on Friday.

“I wanted to be impactful and intentional when we do it because, of course, we get one chance with them to create somewhat of a positive environment,” said Kelly Robinson, president and CEO of Black Nurses Rock’s Twin Cities chapter.

“They do have to come back for a second dose,” Robinson added.

The children get snacks, books and $50 with every shot.

The organizers also tried to make the event as comfortable as possible.

Bryen Bogan, with Stairstep Foundation, said that the event was held in the gymnasium where many of the kids attend school.

“By putting it in these trusted locations with trusted partners in the community, it kind of helps to get people vaccinated,” Bogan said.

The organizers wanted to keep families together to alleviate the stress that comes with shots. The got vaccinated with each other, instead of going one at a time.

Black Nurses Rock is also a key player in the comfort of the students, who may have heard negative information about the vaccine.

“The level of anxiety goes down because then they see people that look just like them, and then there's a smile behind the mask. And the engagement itself, because there's a lot that we can relate to culturally,” Robinson said.

Correction (Nov. 19, 2021): A previous version of this story misspelled Bryen Bogan's first name. The above story is corrected and updated.

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