Massachusetts cashes in on $24M CDC grant to boost vaccine equity in hard-hit communities

Cities and towns hard hit by coronavirus and where vaccinations are lagging behind will get to cash in on a $25 million CDC grant that’s looking to boost health equity across the U.S.

“The pandemic has laid bare longstanding health inequities, and health departments are on the front line of efforts to address those inequities,” said Dr. José T. Montero, director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support. “These grants will provide these health departments with much-needed support to address disparities in communities that need it most.”

A recent Herald report revealed vaccination efforts are trailing in the 20 cities and towns that suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 cases compared to the rest of the state despite more than $30 million invested in outreach efforts. The communities are also home to large populations of low-income, immigrant and minority families.

The CDC award comes the day after the state announced it would ante up an additional $3.2 million for outreach efforts in hard-hit and vaccine-hesitant areas.

The federal money coming to Massachusetts is part of a $2.25 billion nationwide investment that seeks to advance health equity by expanding state, local, US territorial, and freely associated state health department capacity and services. This is CDC’s largest investment to date to improve health equity in the United States.

“These grants demonstrate our steadfast commitment to keeping equity at the center of everything we do,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “They are an important step in our unwavering efforts to strengthen our communities’ readiness for public health emergencies—and to helping everyone in America have equal opportunities for health.”

The intended outcomes of these grants are to reduce COVID-19-related health disparities, improve and increase testing and contact tracing among populations that are at higher risk and are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities, and improve state, local, US territorial, and freely associated state health department capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection.

Boston Herald