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CDC awards $105M to expand Ohio's COVID-19 vaccine programs

The funding is intended to create partnerships with community-based organizations to better reach underserved communities with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Youngstown Vaccine A 01232021
Mike Chervany of Canfield receives a dose of the coronavirus vaccine from nurse Frank Ballone at the Eugenia Atkinson Center in this January 2021 file photo. (Robert K. Yosay | Mahoning Matters)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded Ohio $105,620,988 to make the novel coronavirus vaccine more accessible, especially to underserved communities or communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Of that funding, 75 percent must focus on specific programs or initiatives to increase vaccine access, acceptance and uptake among minority communities; and 60 percent must support local health departments, community-based organizations and community health centers, according to a Tuesday news release.

The funding could be put toward recruiting and training community members in door-to-door outreach to raise awareness about the vaccines and get residents signed up for vaccinations, according to the release. It may also be used to hire health workers for culturally competent, bilingual health outreach.

“We are doing everything we can to expand access to vaccinations,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “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 frontlines to increase vaccine access, acceptance and uptake.”

In the tri-county Mahoning Valley, Blacks make up about 12 percent of the population and account for about 13 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and 8 percent of all coronavirus cases to date, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Data identifying patients' race has gone unreported in about 28 percent of all cases in the Valley, according to ODH. Ethnicity was not reported in nearly half of all cases.

The award is part of $3 billion awarded by the CDC to bolster vaccine distribution and access in 64 jurisdictions, made available through federal relief plans — last year's CARES Act and this year's American Rescue Plan.