In Honor of Minority Health Month, New York State Department of Health Highlights Community Health Partners’ Efforts to Vaccinate New Yorkers

Over $100,000 was awarded to three community health partners dedicated to improving COVID-19 and influenza vaccination rates for minorities

Albany, N.Y. (April 22, 2022) – In honor of Minority Health Month this April, the New York State Department of Health's Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention (OMH-HDP) is recognizing three outstanding community health partners who have worked throughout the pandemic to reduce racial disparities while helping to increase vaccination rates for COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.

In anticipation of managing a second pandemic winter, OMH-HDP provided just over $100,000 in short-term funding from January to February to three community-based organizations. These partners are sustaining and growing ongoing health programs, including vaccination administration, for the New Yorkers they support. Capital District Latinos, Inc., United Way of the Dutchess/Orange Region, and Arab American Family Support Center are all assisting in communities which have previously suffered from socioeconomic and other inequities prior to the pandemic and where the virus has significantly contributed to health inequity. These organizations shared information and resources to encourage vaccine confidence and decrease vaccination disparity among their respective communities.

"Our community-based health partners have been extraordinarily strained throughout the pandemic and ensuring continuity of their services has never been more vital to public health," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "These groups worked hand-in-hand with state and local health departments to help increase vaccination rates among people of color for both COVID-19 and seasonal flu through targeted education and outreach. We are grateful for their unwavering commitment to their communities."

The New York State Department of Health is recognizing the following organizations:

United Way of Dutchess and Orange Region (UWDOR) has utilized OMH-HDP grant funding to develop new message content intended to increase vaccine confidence in the region and to distribute linguistically appropriate messages to a wide audience with a particular focus on the Latino community. Messages were targeted in four legislatively identified Minority Areas with high Latino populations which included Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and Middletown. Messaging in both English and Spanish was distributed via billboards, advertisements in local newspapers and magazines (both in print and digital), local radio stations, and United Way of Dutchess and Orange Region's social media and eblasts. Targeted geo-fencing (the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area), also proved to be effective as were cell phone advertisements shared through UWDOR and community partner networks. These mass media messages reached over 2 million people, enabling the Dutchess County's Vaccine Task Force to meet its goal of 80% of individuals over 18 years old receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Capital District LATINOS (CDL) has over 10 years of experience developing tailored programs and initiatives based on the Social Determinants of Health such as access to housing and workforce development. Over the last two years, the organization focused on increasing awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects among historically underrepresented communities. Through education around the importance of getting vaccinated as well as providing services to ensure a continuum of care, CDL kept communities better protected from the virus. These grassroots services have resulted in CDL being recognized as a "safe place" for the historically underrepresented. CDL has conducted over 33 vaccine clinics, served over 3,000 individuals, and vaccinated close to 1,500 people (82% from minority backgrounds) to date. CDL's vaccination initiative has a 92.5% return rate for the second dose. CDL utilized OMH-HDP funds to conduct a survey of over 200 CDL clients to measure the success of previous programs, ask questions about their needs surrounding the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) and to offer a COVID-19 vaccine and/or flu vaccine.

The Arab American Family Support Center (AAFSC) has leveraged their expertise in cultural and linguist accessible outreach, education, and direct services to Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities. With 36 languages spoken on staff, the organization is uniquely qualified to connect with diverse populations across New York City. OMH-HDP assisted AAFSC with their efforts to address vaccine confidence and connect clients to flu and COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Outreach efforts were conducted in-person and virtually to bring information about vaccine opportunities directly to communities with low vaccination rates. This education and outreach was further enhanced through trained, culturally and linguistically competent outreach staff who answered questions, addressed concerns, and provided evidence-based information on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Over the two-month funding period, AAFSC exceeded their goals by facilitating 156 COVID vaccine appointments and providing outreach to 1,940 individuals through community education and one-on-one conversations.

The New York State Department of Health remains committed to supporting these community-based partners—and countless more—who work every day to keep all New Yorkers healthy and safe.

Learn more about the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention here.

New Yorkers can schedule their free COVID-19 vaccine at any of the State's mass vaccination sites or find a nearby location.