EDITORIAL: Gearing up to bring vaccinations to underserved communities

EDITORIAL: Gearing up to bring vaccinations to underserved communities

By some measures, Connecticut has done fairly well during the COVID-19 crisis. Our overall death rate per 100,000 population, for example, is lower than in our neighboring states, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

But improvement is always to be sought, and that’s why Meriden and Wallingford public health officials deserve credit for gearing up to bring vaccinations to the homebound and those in underserved communities via mobile vaccination vans.

Last week Gov. Ned Lamont announced that such vans, capable of delivering 160 vaccine doses per day, would be available. Local public health officials and community leaders will coordinate the locations and publicize them. These sites can include church parking lots, festivals and parks. They will administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose as opposed to the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines that require two doses several weeks apart.

Maria Harlow, executive director of the Meriden-Wallingford United Way, has advocated on behalf of those who may face transportation, technology, language and insurance barriers to vaccination.

Outreach to the Latino population, she said, “needs to include information coming from trusted sources that will help educate the community about the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine, as well as simplifying the scheduling process." Harlow praised initiatives such as a recent vaccine clinic conducted through the Community Health Center Inc. at Mount Hebron Baptist Church in Meriden. "This is a very effective way to reach the underserved populations."

To date, no vaccine has Food and Drug Administration approval for children under age 16. Moderna is currently in clinical trials, but is several months away from approval.

Community leaders will host a vaccine Q&A Forum via Facebook live and Zoom in English at noon on April 7, and in Spanish at noon on April 14. Doctors from local institutions will make a presentation aimed at answering questions about the vaccine itself (all three types) and the scheduling process.

With the supply of vaccines increasing, this is the time for all to step up and get as many people as possible protected from the virus. 

It’s time to take another step toward something like normal, and that’s just what these local institutions — including the Midstate Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Meriden and Wallingford, SCOW, the Record-Journal, Hartford HealthCare/MidState Medical Center, and the Community Healthcare Center — are doing by holding these vaccine forums.  

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