County and faith-based leaders meet to work on vaccine plan for underserved communities

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 22:52:58-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla — Lee County leaders and the Florida Department of Health know reaching underserved communities is not going to be an easy task.

That's why they are leaning on faith and community-based leaders to help create a plan.

On Thursday, Lee County leaders came together to get a conversation started on how they can effectively roll out a vaccine effort to reach underserved communities.

The program they are trying to create will provide vaccine access to people 65 and older who are at a disadvantage due to transportation or medical issues, which prevent them from going to vaccination sites.

Lee County Assistant Manager, Marc Mora, says one of the challenges they are facing is vaccine hesitation.

Mora says they were provided data by the state from the initial vaccine rollout that showed only a 7% intake of the vaccine by minority groups.

"That's where we really need to lean on faith-based leaders and community-based leaders who have those trusted relationships with their parishioners," said Mora during Thursday's meeting.

An option the county is looking at is a pilot program by the Department of Emergency Management, which uses churches and other organizations as vaccination sites.

"They leveraged the faith-based community to help them with that process by identifying a site, helping with logistics, helping with scheduling," said Mora.

County leaders hope this will also help ensure vaccines go to people the program intends to help.

The county and the DOH in Lee County say there is no timeline for this roll-out.

With high demand but low supply of the vaccine, they say they'll get a better idea based on allocations received from week to week.

Their priority right now is to develop an effective plan so together they can effectively provide education and accessibility to the vaccine for all.