Michigan Gets $90.2 Million from CDC for COVID-19 Vaccine EffortsApril 8, 2021
April 6, 2021
Kristen Jordan Shamus
Michigan is getting a boost in federal dollars for its COVID-19 vaccine efforts.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday it’ll award the state $90,239,771 to build partnerships with community-based organizations to increase vaccine uptake, especially among underserved populations hard-hit by the virus.
The goal is to use the money to ensure greater equity and access to vaccines in communities where people might not be able to get to vaccine sites or may be hesitant about vaccination.
The money comes from $3 billion in funding that the CDC is distributing from the American Rescue Plan and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
“We are doing everything we can to expand access to vaccinations,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Millions of Americans are getting vaccinated every day, but we need to ensure that we are reaching those in the communities hit hardest by this pandemic. This investment will support state and local health departments and community-based organizations as they work on the front lines to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake.”
Seventy-five percent of the money must be used to support specific programs and initiatives to increase vaccine access and acceptance among racial and ethnic minority communities and 60% must go to support local health departments, community-based organizations, and community health centers.
Some examples of how it could be used include door-to-door outreach from trusted members of the community who help people sign up for vaccine appointments. The money also could support the hiring of bilingual community health workers who can communicate with people who don’t speak English or for whom English is a second language to help them understand how to get a free vaccination.
Linda Vail, the health officer for the Ingham County Health Department, said it’s unclear how much of $90.2 million will come to her department.
“Everything helps,” Vail said. “Every little bit helps.”
While local health departments have seen a boost in vaccine supply, it’s challenging to get those doses injected into arms of residents because there aren’t enough trained workers to administer them.
“For us, it’s about staffing, particularly vaccinators,” Vail said. “If you don’t have enough vaccinators then you’re kind of at a hard stop.”
Helping to break down the barrier to vaccine access for people without transportation, more than a dozen public transit agencies from around the state announced Tuesday they have joined the Ride to Your Dose of Hope service. It will give people free or low-cost rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
Participating transit systems are working with local hospitals, state and county health departments, community groups, and others to identify people who need transportation to access the vaccine.
“We are thrilled that such a large and growing number of Michigan public transit agencies are participating in the Ride to You Dose of Hope to help provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine to people facing transportation obstacles,” said Clark Harder, executive director of the Michigan Public Transit Association. “Michigan transit agencies are proud to help the communities they serve ensure that transportation is not a barrier to any resident’s dose of hope and the end of the pandemic.”
The aim of the program is to help people without access to transportation get to vaccine appointments while focusing especially on people who are low-income, homebound, disabled, homeless, or unemployed, as well as senior citizens and communities of color.
The following transit systems have agreed to take part in the program:
- Allegan County Transit – Allegan
- Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority – Washtenaw County
- Barry County Transit – Hastings
- Capital Area Transportation Authority – Ingham County
- Clare County Transit – Harrison
- Clinton Transit – St. Johns/Clinton County
- Eatran – Charlotte/Eaton County
- The Rapid – Grand Rapids
- Ionia Dial A Ride – Ionia
- Livingston Essential Transportation Services – Howell
- Lake Erie Transit – Monroe
- MTA – Flint
- Marquette Transportation Authority – Marquette
- Michigan Transportation Connection – covering 30 counties across the state, including all counties in the Upper Peninsula
- Niles Dial A Ride
- SMART – Southeast Michigan (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb counties)
- STARS – Saginaw
Those who need transportation to a vaccine appointment are urged to call their local transit system or local health department at least 24 hours in advance of their confirmed vaccine appointment to determine whether a free or low-fare ride is available.