NEWARK, NJ — Newark is slated to become one of five pilot cities through The Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity-First Vaccination Initiative to launch a campaign aimed to improve the vaccination rate among communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As one of five selected cities through the $20 million campaign, Newark will deploy equitable, hyper-local public health interventions. The funding will allow United Way of Greater Newark to launch a public education campaign and education strategy to increase confidence in vaccines by partnering and providing resources to neighborhood organizations, public health entities, government stakeholders, and the faith-based community.
Through the initiative, the Newark organization plans to distribute competent vaccine information to black, indigenous and people of color communities, women, and hard-to-reach populations within the city.
Additionally, United Way will also partner with community-based groups and clinical partners throughout the city to deliver vaccines through a mobile vaccine strategy. This strategy aims to roll out vaccines to the city’s underserved neighborhoods and with special populations, including the homeless, youth under 25 years aging out of foster care, and undocumented residents.
During the second phase of the Initiative, the Rockefeller Foundation plans to work with several national organizations and ensure that at least 70 million people of color are vaccinated by July. In addition to working with Newark to help reach this mark, the foundation will deploy equity initiatives in Baltimore, Chicago, Houston and Oakland.
Efforts through this initiative could prove to be vital in Newark especially. A poll of people of color in Newark issued by the Foundation found that two-thirds of respondents (66%) want to get vaccinated when eligible, but half (50%) do not know how to get vaccinated.
The poll also reported systemic health issues facing people of color in Newark today. It found that one in five respondents have trouble getting care when needed, felt disrespected when getting care, and see a doctor less than once a year.
“Because of existing structural inequalities – including health care access, wealth gaps and systematic racism – people of color have been much more likely to both contract COVID-19 and die from this virus,” said Otis Rolley, senior vice president for the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “The Rockefeller Foundation is launching this initiative because a vaccination strategy that does not seek to directly combat inequities stands to further entrench them.