Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and local health officials today announced that Lincoln has been awarded a $3.5 million grant to help communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic access COVID-19 related information and enhance COVID-19 vaccinations. The funding is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Lincoln is one of 73 local governments participating in the new, two-year initiative Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19.
“This grant is critical in helping our vulnerable residents find, understand, and use information and services to help make health-related decisions for themselves and their families,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “Health literacy plays a crucial role in COVID-19 response efforts. COVID-19 information like preventive measures, vaccines and clinic locations should reach all members of the community in a way they are able to understand and act on that information to help protect themselves, their families, and the community.”
“Throughout the pandemic, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and numerous partners have worked together to reach diverse and vulnerable populations and help ensure COVID-19 testing and vaccines are equitably accessible,” said Pat Lopez, Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD). “This grant provides the opportunity to further expand our efforts and better serve our whole community.”
The city will train and hire Health Literacy Associates as part of this initiative. They will work with diverse populations in Lancaster County and in coordination with the community and cultural centers. Part of this effort will include developing additional education and communication resources for populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19 with the goal of increasing vaccination and testing.
“The grant strategy will strengthen our collaborations and allow us to build capacity among our community cultural centers to expand culturally appropriate health education in the community. This will assure that the community is actively engaged and involved in their health and increase understanding of COVID-19 and vaccinations,” said Tom Randa, Executive Director of Good Neighbor Community Center and Chair, Cultural Centers of Lincoln.
LLCHD has partnered with the Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors (NALHD) to assist in the coordination of this initiative. NALHD has significant expertise in health literacy programs and has led health literacy efforts with local health departments statewide.
“We’re excited about this opportunity for Lincoln and working with local community-based organizations to develop health literacy plans to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations,” said Susan Bockrath, Executive Director of NALHD.
LLCHD will also be leveraging local data to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at the highest risk for health disparities and low health literacy, as well as populations not currently reached through existing public health campaigns