DHS awards $6.2 million to promote equity in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

FILE - In this March 26, 2021 file photo, a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department prepares...
FILE - In this March 26, 2021 file photo, a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site set up in Philadelphia.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 4:58 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Over 100 Wisconsin organizations will receive $6.2 million in grants to promote health equity in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Department of Health services announced Thursday.

“This major investment to promote health equity in Wisconsin is essential to bounce back from the pandemic together,” said Gov. Tony Evers.

DHS explained their hope is the funding will enable organizations to act as “trusted messengers” in their communities to build vaccine confidence and reduce barriers that would impede underserved communities from getting their shot.

“Ongoing efforts to distribute the vaccine safely, efficiently, and equitably must include strategies to ensure that vaccines reach communities that face barriers to accessing medical care and people who may have a justifiable mistrust of the medical community and vaccines,” Gov. Evers continued. “We are excited that we can support our partners on the ground in their communities doing this work.”

The organizations who will receive grants include community-based groups, local and tribal health departments, school districts and health systems.

100 Black Men of Madison in Dane County received $43,365 in order to reach out to high-risk and underserved populations in the area. Sauk County Public Health was also included in the funds, and will receive $62,355 to hire a bilingual community health educator to examine the needs of the county’s communities of color.

DHS was able to add an extra $3.1 million to its initial $3.1 million investment it had announced on Feb.15 through federal funding.

The state’s goal is to reach an 80% vaccination rate, DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said, adding “...we have to ensure those Wisconsinites that have been hit hardest by the pandemic have the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.”

Currently in the state, 18.5% of residents have completed their vaccine series.

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