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Vaccinating the Vulnerable, One Church at a Time

6 Apr 2021 7:37 AM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

Stateline Source Article | Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

Nice article from the Pew Charitable Trusts about vaccine efforts….  Might be of help for some agencies participating in local efforts.


Vaccinating the Vulnerable, One Church at a Time


April 2, 2021

By: Christine Vestal


MedStar Mobile Healthcare, a Fort Worth, Texas, regional emergency medical service, hit what leaders there considered a home run recently, vaccinating 757 people in a single day at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, a predominantly Black church on the city’s east side.

Meanwhile, a mass vaccination clinic at Texas Motor Speedway in north Fort Worth used 16 drive-thru lanes to vaccinate 10,000 residents per day.

Both approaches are essential, said Mount Olive Assistant Pastor Louis Stewart. “It’s not an either-or situation.”

Nationwide, health equity advocates and public health experts agree that to outrun the virus and its variants, states and communities must operate mass vaccination sites for those with the time and transportation to get there, while simultaneously launching hundreds of smaller neighborhood efforts designed to meet the needs of the people who have been most devastated by the virus: low-income communities of color.

To varying degrees, states designed their vaccination campaigns to prioritize vulnerable populations. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses county-level census data to assess states’ relative success at meeting those goals. Alaska, Montana and Arizona, all states with strong tribal community vaccination programs, were the most successful. At the bottom were Rhode Island, Florida and Idaho.

Now that age limits for COVID-19 immunization have been dropped in most states, speed and efficiency are more important than ever, public health experts say.

The federal government is establishing 441 mass vaccination sites across the country with the aim of collectively vaccinating a million people per day. At the same time, vaccine drives organized by state and local health agencies, community health centers, nonprofits and faith-based organizations are proliferating.

Many of the local efforts are funded in part by nearly $10 billion in federal grants aimed at expanding access to vaccines and better serving communities of color, rural areas, low-income populations and other underserved communities under the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan enacted in March.

But advocates worry that in the rush to vaccinate the nation’s roughly 250 million adults as quickly as possible, the people most vulnerable to the ravages of the virus will get left behind.

Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than White Americans to contract COVID-19 and three times as likely to be hospitalized for the illness. Black and Hispanic people also are at least twice as likely to die from COVID-19 compared with White people, according to the CDC.

“So far we’re finding the same inequities in vaccine distribution that we find in the health care system as a whole,” said Andi Mullin, director of state and local technical assistance at Boston-based health equity advocate organization Community Catalyst.

“In nearly every state in the country, White people and wealthier people are getting vaccinated in higher proportions than lower income people and people of color, despite the fact that COVID-19 has had a more devastating impact on these communities,” she said.


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