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Biden targets various groups who are reluctant to get vaccinated for COVID-19 funds

The Biden administration has awarded millions of dollars to counter fear and misinformation in communities of color who have indicated they are concerned about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the past three weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded more than $ 17 million to several organizations planning vaccine education, according to the Department of Health and Human Services funding database.

Fifteen organizations advocating for black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American Americans have received funding to boost their awareness of the COVID-19 vaccine. UnidosUS and the National Urban League received the largest grants of $ 3.2 million and $ 2 million respectively.

People of color are more likely to contract COVID-19 than whites, and blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are two to three times more likely to require hospitalization, according to CDC data.

Even with these rates, white Americans get vaccinated at a much higher rate than other racial minorities. As of February 22, more than 19 million people were fully vaccinated, 65% of whom are white, according to CDC data. About half of states keep records with demographic information.

The Biden administration has not commented on CDC funding for outreach efforts, but an HHS official confirmed the coordinated outreach.

Prior to the development of any COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine hesitancy was greatest among black Americans. A Pew Research Center survey last fall found that only 42% planned to be vaccinated, compared to 63% of Hispanics and 61% of white adults. The survey found that Asian Americans who speak English were the most likely to get the vaccine, with 83% saying they would.

Health mistrust persists in communities of color, in part because of past medical abuse by the federal government. Two of the most serious abuses have taken place in the past 50 years: the Tuskegee study of syphilis, which targeted black men for more than 40 years; and the sterilization of thousands of Native American women without their consent by the Indian Health Service in the 1970s.

The nonprofit arm of the Conference of Black National Churches received $ 1.56 million to encourage their parishioners to get vaccinated.

“Black churches have more contact with black people even during the pandemic than any other organization in the country,” said Dr. Jacqui Burton, conference chair. “Even though we are not in our buildings, we still worship and still provide service.”

The conference hopes that this money will also help its efforts to provide vaccines in its churches.

In the coming weeks, it will be a “health ministry… that touches people’s lives and puts vaccines in their hands,” said AME Bishop Adam J. Richardson.

Other organizations are trying to fill a linguistic gap to obtain reliable information.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum to Use $ 1.8 Million Award to Bridge ‘Digital Divide’ in Asian-American Communities and Offer Additional Simplified Vaccination Instructions in Languages less widely spoken but critical like Samoan, Marshala and Chuukese, said CEO Juliet K. Choi.

Choi also said that online vaccine messaging will take pride of place on popular communication platforms such as WeChat, WhatsApp and KaKao.

Closing a language barrier is also a priority for the Association of American Indian Physicians, a group that received a grant of $ 950,000. Because tribal nations are sovereign, they can choose who to vaccinate. In some places like the Cherokee Nation, vaccinations are a priority for their language keepers.

“One of the essential ways to support us is to maintain our language and traditions,” association president Dr. Mary Owen told CBS News. “They know it is inextricably linked to maintaining our health.”

If vaccinated from this awareness, individuals may be able to wear another recent CDC purchase from the Immunization Action Coalition: $ 1 million worth of buttons and stickers promoting the message “I have my COVID-19 vaccine”.

Max Bayer and Alex Tin contributed to this report.

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