Utah gets $30 million to help vaccinate communities of color

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding aims to close the coronavirus inoculation gap.

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Armaan Shaik is curious of the cameras as his father Sahid Agnimeti receives his first free Moderna vaccination from nurse Kimberly Desmond with the Salt Lake County Health Department on Thursday. Over 120 people were scheduled to get their first shots of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at the Utah Islamic Center in West Jordan, Mar. 18, 2021.

Utah will get $30 million to help underserved populations get vaccinated as part of a new program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The money, announced Tuesday, is part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed earlier this year and 75% of the cash must go to programs intended to help racial and ethnic minorities get vaccinated. The CDC is splitting $3 billion among 64 jurisdictions.

“Millions of Americans are getting vaccinated every day, but we need to ensure that we are reaching those in the communities hit hardest by this pandemic,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said in a news statement. “This investment will support state and local health departments and community-based organizations as they work on the front lines to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake.”

In Utah, all adults can sign up for a vaccine and the rate of inoculations is on the rise. So far, 976,000 Utahns have received at least one dose.

As has been seen in many states, Utah’s communities of color have not been vaccinated proportionately.

The Hispanic community makes up 13.3% of Utah’s adults, but only 6.6% of people who have received at least one dose, according to the state Department of Health. Utah’s Pacific Islander, Black, Asian and Native American communities see similar gaps.

Utah’s adult population is 77.6% white and at least 76% of those who have received at least one dose are white.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has said it is a priority to make vaccinations accessible to all Utahns, including its communities of color.

The CDC, in its news release, gave suggestions on how the funding could be spent, such as on door-to-door outreach by community organizations or to hire bilingual community health care workers.