(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indy is mobilizing churches, community groups and nonprofits to boost its COVID vaccination rate.
86 Indianapolis churches and community organizations have received a million dollars in grants from the city and the Marion County Health Department, to help break down uncertainty about the vaccine. Indianapolis Urban League family services director Mark A. Russell says organizations like the Urban League have built a level of trust with their clients through daily contact that county or state government can’t match.
The grant recipients include several groups whose usual focus isn’t public health, from the Children’s Museum to Gleaners Food Bank to the anti-crime Ten Point Coalition. Founder Charles Harrison says Ten Point volunteers will hand out vaccine information during their neighborhood patrols, and at Sunday church services, and will provide transportation for people who need help getting to a vaccine clinic.
Russell says the Urban League will use its grant to supplement its efforts to address needs created by the pandemic. The organization has handed out nearly 200,000 food boxes and prepared meals since the start of the pandemic, and is also providing help with needs like child care and car insurance. And Russell says with Indy preparing to lift a mask order for those who are vaccinated, the Urban League will remind clients that getting vaccinated will mean they can go mask-free.
Marion County health director Virginia Caine has said the county needs half its residents vaccinated to lift capacity limits. With kids under 12 ineligible, that means vaccinating 60% of everyone else. 44% have been vaccinated so far, with another 2% awaiting their second dose.
The grants range from $2,500 to $40,000, with the primary focus on minority communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Recipients include the NAACP and several African-American churches, Latino and LGBT groups, and the Chin Center for Indy’s 20,000 Burmese immigrants.