WEST CHESTER (December 17, 2021) – Two universities and one organization in Chester County will receive more than $55,000 in total state funding to support vaccine outreach and public health awareness efforts, state Senator Carolyn Comitta said today.

The grant funds, which come through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Grant Program, support grassroots outreach efforts including local media buys, creation of outreach and training materials, sponsorship of vaccine-related community events, equipment rental to assist with scheduling vaccine appointments, and more.

The Chester County grant awards are as follows:

  • $24,250 for the Maternal & Child Health Consortium of Chester County (MCHC)
  • $20,000 for Lincoln University
  • $11,000 for West Chester University

Comitta, who serves on the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, said that, in light of new variants, it remains important for all eligible Pennsylvanians to strongly consider getting vaccinated and boosted.  

“This week we marked one year since the first American received the COVID-19 vaccine. Tragically, we also saw the pandemic eclipse 800,000 total U.S. deaths,” said Comitta. “Increasing vaccination, reducing transmission, and saving lives begins with establishing a welcoming environment for trusted community leaders and organizations to educate and address hesitancy concerns and barriers to vaccination.”

Meanwhile, a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation also found that more than 160,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented by vaccination since June of this year and that the virus is one of the leading causes of death in all age groups.

The Chester County grant projects come as part of $2.5 million in funding awarded statewide through the COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Grant Program for organizations to provide direction on where and how to schedule a vaccine appointment and improve uptake of the vaccine in hesitant communities for the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.

Up to $100,000 was available to non-profit organizations and childcare and educational institutions through the program

Milena Oberti-Lanz, Executive Director of MCHC said, “We so are grateful for the support to continue educating our community. Our goal in 2022 is to increase knowledge on the COVID-19 vaccine among residents in Chester County, including the number of high-risk individuals vaccinated. With this support, MCHC will develop an outreach plan, coordinate staff training on COVID-19 vaccine information and disparities, incorporate this information into MCHC’s annual health insurance gatherings, and set up a community vaccine clinic.”

“West Chester University is deeply grateful to Governor Wolf and his administration for taking action and awarding significant grant funding to encourage Pennsylvanians to secure the vaccines they need to protect the Commonwealth from the devasting impacts of the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Chris Fiorentino, President of West Chester University. “With the abundance of vaccines that are now available, we encourage all citizens to engage in becoming vaccinated or receiving a booster. We absolutely must protect one another and getting vaccinated today is the very best way to do so.”

Approximately 70 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. However, many communities are still experiencing disparities in vaccination, including Black/African Americans, Latinx, the LGBTQ community, low-income persons, persons experiencing homelessness, persons less likely to use the Internet and others without Internet access, persons residing in rural or geographically isolated areas, and persons who have distrust in the government.

“Vaccines remain an absolutely essential element in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, however there are still Pennsylvanians who are hesitant to get their first dose,” Governor Wolf said. “By providing funding to grassroots organizations for vaccine outreach efforts, we’re enabling them to serve as trusted messengers in vaccine-hesitant communities and promote the COVID-19 vaccine as a safe and effective way to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.”

“The Department of Health remains committed to eliminating obstacles and challenges that prevent Pennsylvanians from getting vaccinated,” said Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “Thanks to our incredible vaccine providers, and the ‘PA Unites Against COVID’ campaign, we are continuing to do that by providing educational materials, events, vaccine toolkits and posters in multiple languages to help encourage people to get vaccinated. I am impressed by the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who are stepping up every day to get their first, second, or third dose of vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors against COVID-19.”

All Pennsylvanians age 5 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. If it’s been over six months since your second vaccine, you may be eligible for a booster vaccine. To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you, visit www.vaccines.gov to schedule an initial or booster appointment.