Offers BIPOC COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics into July, with Support from Vermont Department of Health
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Health Equity Initiative, a community partner organization managed by The Vermont Professionals of Color Network, announces a commitment to providing COVID-19 vaccination clinics for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Vermonters and their households through July 10.
The clinics are being offered with support from the Vermont Department of Health and City of Burlington.
As the first BIPOC-led organization in Chittenden County focused on BIPOC Vermonters and health disparities, the Vermont Health Equity Initiative has delivered over 2800 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date in collaboration with Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, The Black Perspective, Winooski Strong, and University of Vermont’s VT LEND Program, across a total of eight vaccination clinics with the ninth clinic scheduled this Saturday, May 15.
Clinic registration is open for BIPOC Vermonters age 16 and older and all members of their households through the Vermont Health Equity Initiative website, vermonthealthequity.org. Once the CDC authorizes the COVID-19 vaccine for the 12-15 age group, the state is expected to offer the vaccine to those individuals within days. The BIPOC-focused clinics will also offer vaccines to that group at that time as well.
As of May 10 in Chittenden County, 58% of BIPOC Vermonters have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as opposed to 70% of white, non-Hispanic Vermonters. The community-run BIPOC COVID-19 vaccination clinics have administered 1597 first doses and 2802 total doses to date.
The BIPOC clinics were established in an effort to close the racial vaccination gap to protect the larger community, and in response to the City of Burlington’s declaration of racism as a public health emergency in July 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the problem of racial disparities in health care among many other facets of daily life for BIPOC Vermonters,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger. “We are taking direction from community leaders and doing our part to accelerate the rates in which our BIPOC community is receiving COVID-19 vaccines.” Mayor Weinberger said that the City, together with its state and community partners, have made considerable progress reaching the BIPOC community and getting them vaccinated, but can do better. “We continue to see disparities in vaccination rates for BIPOC individuals age 65 and older. We hope this initiative will help close that gap by spreading awareness, offering dedicated resources, and bringing together the deserving BIPOC residents of this state,” Weinberger said.
The BIPOC-focused COVID-19 vaccination clinics aim to provide a safe, dedicated, and community-based environment and resource for COVID-19 education and vaccination for the BIPOC population in Vermont outside of what other vaccination sites may be offering.
“We’re offering an in-person experience that has been missing for vaccinations for these members of our community,” explained Belan Antensaye of the Racial, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Department and The Vermont Professionals of Color Network. “And we’re offering more than just a vaccine every Saturday. We’re offering a chance to repair the historic harm done to the BIPOC community by healthcare systems in the past.”
Antensaye said the clinic programs offer a broad range of support to help make it easier to get vaccinated. “Sometimes we will be able to offer transportation and childcare for an appointment, we’re offering support, some are offering prayer. Every clinic offers interpretation, to foster an environment where all feel welcome even if English is not your first language. Besides the information and resources people need, we’re offering a culture of connection for our community.”
Vermont’s Deputy Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan said it is a top priority of the state to reduce health disparities and make greater progress toward health equity in Vermont. “Every one of us has a stake in ensuring all people have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy, especially those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage, historical injustice, and other avoidable systemic inequalities,” said Dolan. “These clinics represent the commitment we all have to this process.”
For those with further questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines or the vaccination process, the Vermont Health Equity Initiative will be hosting free monthly community sessions via video conference with clinic organizers and health officials available to answer questions.
Additional information on the BIPOC COVID-19 vaccination clinics and the Vermont Health Equity Initiative is available at vermonthealthequity.org.
About Vermont Health Equity Initiative:
Vermont Health Equity Initiative is a community partner organization managed by The Vermont Professionals of Color Network, dedicated to the health of Vermont's Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community. With a mission of addressing racism as a public health crisis and reducing disparities across public health outcomes in Vermont, the Vermont Health Equity Initiative presently leads COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Chittenden County, providing a safe, dedicated, and community-focused environment and resource for COVID-19 education and vaccination for the BIPOC population in Vermont.
Source: Burlington, VT – 5.12.2021. Vermont Health Equity Initiative www.vermonthealthequity.org