A $6 million donation is going to four historically Black medical schools in an effort to make the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to Black communities.
The money is a gift from former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose philanthropy announced the donation on Tuesday (April 13). Morehouse School of Medicine is set to receive $2.1 million, Howard University College of Medicine will receive $1.6 million, $869,000 will go to Meharry Medical College, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine is receiving $1.6 million.
In September of 2020, Bloomberg pledged $100 million to the schools, spread out over the next four years, to help with students’ debt burden.
According to The Associated Press, this latest gift will be used to purchase more mobile vaccine units to help bring COVID-19 vaccination to communities without access to pharmacies, a critical step in meeting the nation’s vaccination distribution plan, and protecting those who have been disproportionately impacted.
“COVID-19 has been devastating to the health and economic wellbeing of many Black families –– and right now increasing equitable access to vaccines is one way we can serve the needs of those who need it most,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice told the outlet that the gift will help increase the school’s vaccination capacity to 500 to 1,000 people a week.
“We have been doing this at a snail’s pace, but with these additional monies, we are able to hire additional people,” Rice said. The School has vaccinated 5,200 people already, and will open clinics at a mall in Atlanta’s predominantly Black communities.
The schools will be using the funds to prioritize people who can’t access vaccine appointments online, and those who are homebound. Howard has distributed vaccines to 25,000 people in Washington, D.C., while Drew University has vaccinated 52,000 people in the Los Angeles area, and Meharry has vaccinated 3,500 people in Tennessee.
Vaccine hesitancy has decreased among African American adults since the shots were first introduced late last year. Many health advocates have championed healthcare equity as a necessary first step in building trust across Black communities.
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