State Awards $8.8 Million for COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts in Priority Communities

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced $8.8 million in additional grants and contracts to community-based organizations as part of the Massachusetts Vaccine Equity Initiative to increase awareness and access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the 20 cities and towns hardest hit by the pandemic. The awards are part of the administration’s investment of $27.4 million in federal funds announced in March.

The funds, which will be distributed to select community- and faith-based organizations statewide, include $6.8 million to 25 organizations over 24 months to reduce barriers to vaccination for priority communities and populations most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Community-based organizations, community health centers, and behavioral health centers will provide guidance about vaccine eligibility, assistance to register for online appointments, and translation services, among other supports. Services will be delivered by bilingual and bicultural staff and community health workers with experience serving priority populations.

“As we continue to focus on the unequal burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals in our hardest-hit cities and towns, we’re working hand in hand with communities on vaccine outreach and access efforts,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “That means building trust and confidence in vaccine safety and efficacy and helping eligible residents overcome barriers to get vaccinated.”

Organizations will receive funding to directly administer vaccination to groups that were not reached by other outreach efforts. These organizations can be deployed to smaller venues with populations that may require more intensive one-on-one vaccination support, such as treatment facilities for substance-use disorder, places of worship, homeless encampments, food pantries/congregate meal locations, LGBTQ+ community programs, shelters and day programs, and immigrant assistance centers.