Grant effort seeks to reduce vaccine hesitancy in state

Would you like a vaccine with that funnel cake?

A grant introduced last week seeks to help local nonprofits in Pennsylvania provide COVID-19 vaccines during events they are hosting.

The Local Innovations in Vaccine Equity in Pennsylvania (LIVE PA) initiative wants to put $4 million toward the cause of reducing vaccine hesitancy and ensuring equitable vaccine distribution to all Pennsylvanians.

Local United Way chapters are partnering in the effort to pass the money along, and Will Price, executive director of the United Way of Venango County, said “we are really excited about it.”

The program, which reimburses nonprofit agencies $10 per shot “achieved,” will be administered like mini-grants to nonprofits that either create an event around a popup vaccination clinic or roll a clinic into an event they’re already hosting.

The grants, according to Gov. Tom Wolf’s office, “are designed initially to range from $200 to $2,000 per vaccination event.”

Nonprofits who apply for and receive grants – as well as the United Way chapters administering them – are required to use both traditional and digital media to help fight vaccine hesitancy.

The program targets small nonprofits, like churches, community centers, and “organizations with the relationship power” to have a measurable effect on the yet-unvaccinated population of Pennsylvania.

The hope is that those with concerns about getting a vaccine will be able to rest easy in regards to vaccine safety because the festivals, events, and groups they interact with regularly are partners in the effort.

A pilot phase of the program, which targets “zip codes and census tracts with the highest levels of health disparities, poverty and vaccine inequity in the commonwealth,” includes sections of Pittsburgh, Erie, and Harrisburg.

During this pilot period, which Price said lasts about 45 days, his chapter will be “gearing up, talking with partners, discussing possible programs” local nonprofits might want to have, or ways to include vaccination clinics at the events they’ve already got scheduled, before getting ready for an official local rollout.

At that point, said Price, United Way of Warren County will promote the grant opportunity according to its requirements – using both traditional and digital media.