Mayor Kim Janey, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Office of Health and Human Services today announced the awardees of the Vaccine Equity Grant Initiative, which was launched in March to ensure equitable availability to the COVID-19 vaccine. A total of $1.5 million has been distributed to 11 organizations working to increase vaccine access and awareness in communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applicants were charged with developing strategies to enhance and ensure equitable vaccine access for specific communities, neighborhoods and groups experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 positivity or to target outreach for communities facing barriers in obtaining the vaccine. These include Black/African American, Latinx, Asian, Indigenious, and immigrant communities; persons with disabilities; individuals over the age of 65; and the neighborhoods of East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roslindale and Chinatown, where positivity rates have consistently been higher and vaccination rates have been lower than the citywide average.
As of April 13, 2021, 168,145 individuals who are 16 years of age or older have been fully vaccinated in the City of Boston. 47 percent of fully vaccinated Bostonians are people of color. 16,498 Asian/Pacific Islander residents are fully vaccinated; 31,243 Black residents are fully vaccinated; 19,073 Latinx residents are fully vaccinated; and 214 American Indian/Alaskan Native residents are fully vaccinated. In comparison, 81,844 White residents are fully vaccinated.
Grantees awarded have created strategies to engage the community in four ways. Access and awareness strategies include:
•Direct, in-person outreach: This will target populations and scheduling individuals for vaccine appointments.
•Public awareness efforts: This will target specific populations or neighborhoods to build confidence in vaccines and their effectiveness.
•Wrap around supports: This will help to create equitable access to vaccines appointments through methods including transportation support, interpretation services, companion programs, dedicated staff to get residents into vaccine appointments.
•Direct clinic support: This will include expanded staffing, outreach or on-site services to support access to vaccines people, including access during non-traditional hours or located at non-traditional locations.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has prioritized access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination for communities most impacted. The current community positivity rate is 4.0 percent for the week of April 9-15, 2021, with the neighborhoods of East Boston, Dorchester, South Boston, and Roslindale experiencing the highest rates. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 24 percent of known cases have been among Black/African American residents, 30 percent of known cases have been among Hispanic/Latinx residents, and 6 percent of known cases have been among Asian/Pacific Islander residents.