AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an effort to vaccinate underserved communities and address vaccine hesitancy, Travis County is tapping community-based groups for help.
The county rolled out a vaccine partner program this month which asks nonprofits or faith-based groups to host vaccine clinics and promote them to the community they serve. In return, the county will pay $50 for every person that gets a COVID-19 vaccine first dose, up to $5,000.
“The idea is reaching out to communities of trust,” Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, said. “It is working with community institutions and with people who are community institutions to make sure that we are reaching the entire community.”
It’s a partner program first adopted by Harris County, who also offers funding for community groups who get people vaccinated.
Jody McIntosh, a FUSE Corps fellow, told Travis County Commissioners last month that Travis County staff had been in regular communication with Harris County to figure out what worked and didn’t. HCPH launched their program in early August.
Harris County Public Health reported to Austin-Travis County in September that during their first events through their partner program, more than 50% of vaccine recipients were Latinx or African American. They said they had roughly 150 vaccinations per event, McIntosh told commissioners.
“A lot of people do not have a lot of contact with government so whenever government comes up with a program, some are suspicious, however, if you work through local churches, if you work through local fraternities and sororities, if you work through local teaching institutions then we find that it is easier to reach communities,” Travillion said.
Groups have to submit an application to Travis County which will be considered based on targeted demographics, presence in the community and community reach, according to Travis County’s website.
The application for the program states that groups in high priority areas will be selected first, and that not all groups will be selected. The county laid out several zip codes in Travis County that they hope to target.
If chosen, the county will provide all vaccines, supplies and staff.
Groups can apply for the vaccine partner program on Travis County’s website.