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Rockefeller Foundation selects Baltimore as vaccine equity partner

The Rockefeller Foundation has tapped Baltimore and four other cities for its vaccine equity campaign, a $20 million initiative that devotes resources to getting people of color immunized.

The funding will enable Baltimore to launch more pop-up and mobile vaccination clinics, as well as “resource hubs” that can connect city residents with social services, the organization said this week in a news release.

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“The Rockefeller Foundation is launching this initiative because a vaccination strategy that does not seek to directly combat inequities stands to further entrench them,” said Otis Rolley, senior vice president for the U.S. equity and economic opportunity initiative at the foundation.

The foundation previously partnered with the city in launching the Baltimore Health Corps, a program that recruits and trains residents in public health-focused work. It also selected the city as one of several to receive capital, training and counseling for small businesses of color affected by COVID-19.

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The Equity-First Vaccination Initiative has set a goal of ensuring 70 million people of color are fully vaccinated by July. It will invest specifically in the Open Society Institute-Baltimore to partner with community organizations and address questions and concerns about the vaccines.

A study conducted by HIT Strategies found that while the majority of Baltimore respondents (74%) want to get vaccinated when eligible, most (58%) do not know how to get vaccinated. The poll also found 1 in 5 respondents have trouble getting care when needed and felt disrespected when getting care.

About a third of all city residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Baltimore City Health Department. A higher percentage of white residents have been vaccinated compared with Black residents, though the city has immunized a larger proportion of the Black community relative to other Maryland counties, state figures show.

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