Updated: February 23, 2021 08:16 PM
Created: February 23, 2021 05:06 PM
Governor Tim Walz joined community leaders on Tuesday to highlight that the State of Minnesota has partnered with more than 30 community-based organizations to help connect Minnesotans with the COVID-19 vaccine. The goal is to make sure people have access to the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector and other information specific to their community.
"It was always our intention that the vaccine should be available at the place ... where you get your medicine, whether that's at the pharmacy, whether that's at a clinic," Walz said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "But for some people, they don't have that access. And if they do not, we need to reach out and make sure that we're meeting people where they're at."
As 'COVID-19 Community Coordinators,' these partners will work with the state to ensure people have access to the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector and other COVID-19 information specific to their communities, including in multiple languages, according to the governor's office.
"It's not simply a matter of access. There's mistrust and skepticism," The Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson of the Stair Step Foundation said. "And so as we shared that with the governor and Commissioner Malcolm, they listened to us. And we know they listened because we've seen some results on the other side of that."
The coordinators will work directly with communities hit hardest by COVID-19, including communities of color, American Indian communities, LGBTQ+ communities and Minnesotans with disabilities. In addition to connecting them to vaccines, the group will help people find critical resources to address the impacts of COVID-19, such as employment, food access, housing, child care and legal rights.
"We know many communities, including BIPOC communities, face barriers to accessing the COVID-19 vaccine," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a press release. "Trusted organizations like these are deeply embedded in their communities and play a vital role in ensuring that folks in every community feel connected to our vaccine network and know how to get vaccinated safely and confidently."
The COVID Community Coordinators initiative contracts with 19 culturally specific organizations to serve African American, African immigrant, American Indian, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx and LGBTQ communities in the state.
The governor's office also said MDH is partnering with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to contract with disabilities-centered community-based organizations. MDH is also partnering with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Refugee and Immigrant Resettlement Network to contract with refugee service agencies across the state.
The organizations involved are:
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