Elder Services Receives State Contract to Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Access

AgeSpan CEO Joan Hatem Roy. (Courtesy photograph.)

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore was one of 25 community-based organizations to receive a state contract as part of the Massachusetts Vaccine Equity Initiative to increase awareness and access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the 20 cities and towns hardest hit by the pandemic.

The contracts are part of the Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration’s investment of $27.4 million in federal money announced in March.

“With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, we have hosted vaccination clinics and supported the clinics of our community partners to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated,” said Elder Services’ CEO Joan Hatem-Roy. “This contract allows us to expand that work in the areas hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Under the contract, Elder Services will target Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell and Methuen to increase trust in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, especially in communities of color; identify and reduce barriers for accessing the vaccine; and increase vaccine access through existing vaccination locations and mobile vaccination options.

“Our services will be delivered in concert with existing community vaccine distribution programs and through new initiatives by bilingual and bicultural staff and community health workers, who have experience serving priority populations,” said Hatem-Roy. “This approach will allow for a more intensive one-on-one vaccination support.”

The identified cities and towns met the Massachusetts COVID-19 Advisory Group recommendation to prioritize communities, and then ranked by average daily COVID-19 case rates. From this list by case rate, the top communities with the highest percentage of people of color were identified.

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