Advance Notice: Briefs

Detroit-based coalition announces effort to increase vaccines in BIPOC communities

By: - September 17, 2021 3:03 pm

Willette Shaw, a 67-year-old African-American Highland Park resident, receives a COVID-19 vaccination. | Ken Coleman

A new coalition targeting Michiganders who remain hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has launched, bringing together nonprofit community organizations to increase education about vaccines and residents’ access to them.

The new Detroit-based group, MI Voices for Vaccines (or V4V) announced its creation on Friday.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 in Michigan are still slowly increasing, but those numbers have greatly slowed since early summer. Currently, about 57% of the state aged 12 years and older (4.9 million residents) has been fully vaccinated; just under 62% of the state is partially vaccinated (5.2 million residents).

V4V particularly seeks to address access barriers and vaccine hesitancy for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who reside in medically underserved areas of the state.

The coalition’s goal is to reach over 320,000 families statewide via door-to-door canvassing, social media, phone and mail to provide the resources necessary to ensure vaccine access.

Participating organizations for MI Voices for Vaccines include: Michigan Voices, Michigan United, Detroit Action, the Detroit Change Initiative, CARES of Southwest Michigan (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services), the Michigan Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Our Own Wall Street, Better Men Outreach and Open Progress.

“We know that COVID has struck BIPOC communities really hard,” said Sommer Foster, co-director of the Michigan Voices nonprofit. “And oftentimes, those communities are furthest away from access to care and treatment.”

The Detroit-based Michigan Voices received a nearly $1 million vaccine outreach grant by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) in July, one of four grants given to Michigan groups by the HRSA at that time.

The nonprofit plans to put that $999,998 toward helping V4V magnify its outreach efforts.

“Coalition and collaboration is what we do,” said Michigan Voices Co-Director Tameka Ramsey in a Friday press release. 

Ramsey said the group’s partners “have been having conversations with their neighbors and communities for the last 18 months about COVID and COVID safety. It made complete sense to us to work with folks that had already built those relationships with residents.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.