Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced grants totaling more than $6 million to the nation's four historically Black medical schools to expand their mobile unit COVID-19 vaccine operations.
The grants will support efforts by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (Los Angeles, California), Howard University College of Medicine (Washington, D.C.), Meharry Medical College (Nashville, Tennessee), and Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta, Georgia) to meet the demand for trusted vaccine administrators and combat vaccine hesitancy in Black and medically underserved communities. The schools' mobile units are working with trusted partners such as churches and senior centers to set up temporary vaccination sites and reach the most vulnerable populations. In support of those efforts, the grants will fund mobile medical unit upgrades, staff for the units, medical supplies, and community outreach.
While African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, their vaccination rates lag those of white Americans, in part due to issues such as unreliable transportation, limited Internet access (for booking appointments), and long, inflexible work hours.
The grants are in addition to a $100 million commitment announced by Bloomberg Philanthropies in September to help ease the debt burden of students at the four historically Black medical schools.
"Black Americans and our nation’s medically underserved are fighting two pandemics — COVID-19 and racial inequality," said Meharry Medical College president and CEO James E.K. Hildreth. "Minority communities have historically suffered from medical mistreatment and lack of access to quality health care but are now expected to trust a system that has neglected them for decades. As leaders in the healthcare community, it is our imperative to break this cycle and establish trust throughout our communities. Our deepened relationship with Bloomberg Philanthropies will continue to bring awareness to these systemic issues and provide the protection and care our communities deserve."
(Photo credit: Meharry Medical College)