New Grant Removes Barriers To COVID Vaccine Access

Apr 06 2021

Newest grant from the Foundation provides access to COVID-19 vaccines in King County communities most impacted by the pandemic

Starting April 15, all Washington adults are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Despite this announcement from Governor Jay Inslee last Wednesday, many in our communities including those most impacted by the pandemic are experiencing substantial hurdles to get their vaccine. From lack of technology to secure an appointment, to transportation access, or simply no time in the midst of juggling work and family, many in our communing are getting vaccinated at disproportionately lower rates, despite having a higher burden of COVID-related risks.  

Harborview medical assistant Aurora Artman provides COVID-19 vaccine to Jalyssa Atualevao at the Pacific Islander Community Association in Federal Way, Wash.

To address this disparity, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation along with the Seattle Mariners, Cambia Health Foundation, Starbucks, and foundry10 are partnering with Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine to deliver COVID-19 vaccines directly to underserved communities in King County. The Foundation’s grant of $1 million will target vaccinations for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) residents and those experiencing homelessness.  At full operation, UW Medicine’s efforts will deliver up to 14,500 vaccines per month to the region’s most vulnerable communities and geographic locations. 

“Our ability to end this pandemic quickly and save lives depends on improving access to the vaccine and providing vaccine information in those communities most burdened by COVID-19,” said Dr. Lisa Chew, associate medical director of Ambulatory Services at Harborview Medical Center and associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. 

As vaccination availability turns the tide in this pandemic, the foundation continues its commitment to improving and expanding equitable access to COVID-19 resources

— Lara Littlefield, Partner Development Director, Science & Technology Partnerships

Using mobile vaccination teams staffed and operated by Harborview Medical Center, pop-up vaccine clinics, and the Harborview COVID-19 vaccination clinic, the initiative will reach King County residents where they are. In addition to vaccine delivery, the funds will also allow UW Medicine to partner with community organizations and leaders to disseminate accurate vaccine information and build trust in the vaccination efforts themselves. Given historical lack of access to quality health care, BIPOC communities need reliable information from trusted community leaders. 

This grant continues the commitment of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, UW Medicine, and Harborview Medical Center to support those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. The Foundation’s early $2 million grant to UW Medicine’s Emergency Response Fund launched UW Medicine’s mobile testing program in underserved communities, which has conducted more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests since April 2020 and whose infrastructure is making this vaccination program possible. This funding round also builds on the Foundation’s previous COVID-19 support to multiple organizations in the Pacific Northwest, totaling $12 million.

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