NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Catholic Health has been awarded $800,000 in American Rescue Plan Funding to address COVID-19 disparities in Niagara County. The hope is this will raise vaccination rates in areas that are seeing a low amount of vaccinated individuals.
The funds are supposed to target zones that are seeing low rates such as the 14301, 14303, and 14305 zip codes that are all below 50% vaccination.
57.5% of Niagara County has received at least one dose of the vaccine, below the state average of just under 66%. Of that percentage, only 8.7% of those with one dose in Niagara county are minorities. Dr. Rolanda Ward, Associate Professor of Social Work at Niagara University, said the new funds will go towards having people from the community itself help those who are vaccine hesitant.
"If it comes from individuals who look like them, live in their community, then they're more willing to say, 'You know what that makes sense," Dr. Ward said.
Catholic Health said that community outreach workers will be hired and trained to target those areas with low rates. According to Dr. Ward, this is to not only encouraging a vaccine dose, but also to be more connected to the healthcare community.
"The goal is not just to get you vaccinated, but also get you connected with healthcare providers," Dr. Ward said.