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New partnership aims to increase Black vaccination rates in Kent County

A new partnership aims to get COVID-19 vaccination rates up in West Michigan Black communities and tackle misinformation surrounding the vaccine.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new partnership aims to get COVID-19 vaccination rates up in West Michigan Black communities and tackle misinformation surrounding the vaccine.  

Spectrum Health is providing financial support to two organizations in Kent County led by Black leaders to improve access to the vaccine and reach a younger demographic.

According to Spectrum Health, currently, Grand Rapids has a vaccination rate of 34% among African Americans compared to 39% in Ottawa County. Muskegon only has a 32% vaccination rate. Furthermore, vaccination rates among Black 20-to-29-year-olds are 23% in Grand Rapids and just 13% in Muskegon. 

"We're just seeing a lot of specific misinformation out there and those questions that people ask, they need to be answered. People need to be emotionally satisfied before they get a vaccine," said Jeremy Moore, the Community Programs Director, Spectrum Health. 

Spectrum Health is collaborating with MSU and other health organizations to increase vaccinations. Spectrum Health is giving The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute $400,000 and The Diatribe $65,000 in CDC funding.

"Provide access sites and so they're going to be establishing a large network with Black-owned businesses, fraternities and sororities. With organizations that have been working on the ground like Proactive and other organizations who already have infrastructure that hasn't been financially supported to provide mobile events and mobile clinics." 

Their goal is to see the long-term Black vaccination rate reach 75% and make sure residents are getting their questions answered about COVID-19, vaccinations and boosters from community leaders they trust.

Moore said additional funding could be awarded in the coming years based on the outcomes of the first year.

This project is just being rolled out in Muskegon County so the partners haven't been chosen yet.

   

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