Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Public Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford have announced plans to provide local health departments in Connecticut and their community partners with $33.3 million in federal funding to establish outreach, education, and services for minority and traditionally underserved communities, as part of the state’s the ongoing efforts to increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations.
These equity partnerships between local health departments, community organizations, and vaccine providers will reach people in targeted zip codes that are high on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index. The equity partnerships will rely on rapid grant funding for local health departments and community organizations, and will be supplemented by campaign outreach and support, including canvassing, calling, and mobile vaccine clinics, and help and support from the state for local execution, data and analytics, peer-to-peer learning, and expert advice.
“The key to this effort is reaching out to every Connecticut resident where they live,” Governor Lamont said. “I recognize that for some of our residents, it is more difficult to access the vaccination system because of financial, transportation, health, or other challenges. That’s why we’ve quickly ramped up this outreach program, using mostly federal dollars for which I thank Connecticut’s Congressional delegation. The only way we get to the other side of this pandemic is to vaccinate everyone as quickly as possible. We need to do everything we can to make that happen.”
This week, the Connecticut Department of Public Health will issue grant funding information and applications to interested local health departments. Applications will be due back to the department by April 15. Grants are expected to be awarded as soon as April 23.
“From the beginning of our vaccination program, Connecticut has recognized the need to deliver shots in an equitable and fair manner,” Commissioner Gifford said. “Also early on, we recognized we need to do better in underserved and minority communities who have been hard hit by COVID-19. By providing funding and support to local equity partnerships, we are empowering the people and organizations on the ground who know the residents of these communities best to reach out and ensure they have the information and access necessary to receive vaccine. We are hopeful that through this program we are going to see the gap close as we strive for our goal of a statewide vaccination rate of 70 percent or better.”
In support of the equity partnership program, the Department of Public Health will use the first of a national fleet of mobile vaccination units provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the capability of delivering up to 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines per day. Over the next two months, the mobile vaccination unit will visit 17 municipalities in the state that have been selected based on their ranking in the CDC’s social vulnerability index. Specific locations within each municipality will be selected with the help of local health departments based on convenience for residents living in those selected cities and towns. In addition, Griffin Hospital will be deploying vaccine vans capable of administering 80 to 100 doses of vaccine per day in select neighborhoods in underserved communities.
As of Monday, approximately 1.2 million Connecticut residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 700,000 individuals have received either both doses of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines or the single-dose J&J vaccine. More than 80 percent of people 65 years of age and above, considered the most vulnerable to severe illness or death from COVID-19, have received at least their first dose.