DHS invests $6 million to promote equity in vaccine rollout

A Scripps health official draws from a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to administering it...
A Scripps health official draws from a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to administering it to a patient at their new drive-thru vaccination site at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Del Mar, Calif. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP, Pool)(Nelvin C. Cepeda | AP)
Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 3:07 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The state’s top health agency announced Monday they will invest over $6 million to promote access to the COVID-19 vaccine in communities who face barriers to them, as well as to help organizations raise awareness on the shot.

The Department of Health Services explained that state and nationwide data shows the rate of vaccinations have been disproportionately lower for Black, Indigenous and Hispanic populations, among others.

DHS interim secretary Karen Timberlake explained that people in these communities may not be aware of how to get their vaccine, or may be apprehensive.

“We also know that some people may not trust information about the COVID-19 vaccine due to a history of racism and mistreatment experienced by many communities,” Timberlake said. “This grant will help close gaps in access to information and address some of those drivers of vaccine hesitancy by investing in partners that are in the best positions to promote vaccination efforts in their communities.”

About $3.1 million of the funding will be given to help organizations build confidence in the vaccine, as well as reduce barriers in accessing the vaccine in urban and rural areas.

DHS will also provide $3 million to add on to the equity work that Federally Qualified Health Centers, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Family Health La Clinica, Minority Health Grantees and United Way of Wisconsin 211 have all been doing.

Gov. Tony Evers remarked that the state needs to further their efforts in order to get as many people in the state immunized as possible.

“By investing in trusted organizations to engage in strategic outreach, coordination, and vaccine education for racially and geographically diverse populations, we are better able to protect our communities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19,” he said.

Grant applications will open on Feb. 15, and DHS advised organizations who work to reduce socioeconomic or health inequities across the state to apply.

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