The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) today announced $6.2 million in grants has been awarded to one hundred organizations across the state. The investment aims to increase vaccinations by supporting organizations to serve as trusted messengers within their communities, build vaccine confidence, and reduce barriers that hinder vaccine access for marginalized or underserved populations.
“This major investment to promote health equity in Wisconsin is essential to bounce back from the pandemic together,” said Gov. Evers. “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. We are excited that we can support our partners on the ground in their communities doing this work."
Through federal funding, DHS was able to add an additional $3.1 million dollars to the initial $3.1 million investment, which allows more organizations to be awarded grant money. Awardees range from community-based organizations to local and tribal health departments, school districts, and health systems. Each applicant was required to submit a plan that included the geographic area or target population they serve and a strategy to help overcome barriers to vaccination.
“This pandemic has highlighted existing health inequities in Wisconsin and across the nation. Black, Indigenous, and people of color experience higher rates of infection, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19. This grant program is rooted in the understanding that community-based organizations and trusted messengers are in the best position to promote acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination and increase accessibility to the vaccine within their communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “As part of our work to reach an 80% vaccination rate across our state, 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.”
The awardees will use culturally relevant information and engage in outreach to promote vaccine acceptance. Some awardees will also work to increase vaccine access by coordinating rides, helping schedule appointments, hosting vaccination clinics, or making information more inclusive and accessible. See the full list of awardees and brief descriptions of their plan.
This grant program is part of Wisconsin’s broader efforts to advance racial and geographic equity in the COVID-19 vaccination program. In addition to the $6.2 million grant program, DHS has also invested $3 million to supplement current vaccine equity work being done by existing partners. Additional equity efforts include prioritizing vaccine orders for tribal partners, community health clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers—all of which provide services in underserved communities, as well as expanding vaccine access through mobile vaccination teams, community-based clinics, and Wisconsin’s employer based vaccine clinic program.
DHS will continue to work to ensure everyone in Wisconsin can get vaccinated against COVID-19. We remain committed to protecting and promoting the health and safety of all Wisconsinites.
For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program, visit the COVID-19 vaccine webpage. To access resources translated into Hindi, Hmong, Mandarin, Somali, and Spanish, visit the COVID-19 resources webpage.