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State funding enables Wright Center to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts


Funding builds upon program in Hazleton, targets other underserved areas in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming counties

The Wright Center for Community Health recently was awarded $75,000 in state funding to encourage hesitant residents in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The new grant funding is part of the state’s $2.5 million COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Program that supports grassroots efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy across the commonwealth. The program, administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, builds upon the ongoing statewide public health awareness campaign, PA United Against COVID-19.

“The Wright Center is extremely grateful for the complete support the state has exhibited in providing us the necessary tools to get as many COVID-19 shots into the arms of our patients,” said Dr. Jignesh Y. Sheth, chief medical officer of The Wright Center for Community Health. “The COVID-19 vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. medical history.

“Vaccinations are an effective way to protect yourself, your loved ones and others in the community and reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization or long-term complications.”

The state funding supports efforts by nonprofit organizations, and child care and educational institutions to communicate the efficacy and importance of vaccinations through local media advertisements, and creation of training materials, vaccine-related community events and more.

Dr. Jignesh Y. Sheth

“The Department of Health remains committed to eliminating obstacles and challenges that prevent Pennsylvanians from getting vaccinated,” Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said in a press release announcing the 65 grant recipients. “I am impressed by the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who are stepping up every day to get their first, second or third dose of vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors against COVID-19.

With the grant funding, The Wright Center for Community Health will build upon its existing Driving Better Health program in the Hazleton area that delivers COVID-19 vaccines to members of the Hispanic community with the 34-foot mobile medical unit. The collaborative program involves the Hazleton Integration Project, Hazleton Area School District and community leaders reaching vulnerable, underserved populations in southern Luzerne County.

The Wright Center also will build vaccine confidence through outreach and community engagement that overcomes structural, behavioral and informational barriers, including education, rural residency that limits access to health care, people who speak limited English, individuals with low incomes and other under-resourced communities. The mobile medical unit enables clinical staff to establish community clinics and see patients where they live and work thanks to community collaborations that include schools, rural partners, community organizations and ethnic groups.

The grant will enable The Wright Center for Community Health’s Driving Better Health to conduct up to 36 outreach events in the coverage area over 12 months.

For more information about The Wright Center for Community Health, call 570.343.2383 or go to TheWrightCenter.org.

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