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Duval health department gets $6.5M grant to address COVID-19 health disparities

Smaller sites offering more vaccines as state-run sites begin to close
Smaller sites offering more vaccines as state-run sites begin to close

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County health department announced Thursday it has been selected to receive a $6.5 million federal grant to address health disparities among high-risk populations in Jacksonville.

“Health disparities are a problem in our county, and we are continuously strategizing on how we can reach those who need us most,” said Dr. Pauline Rolle, Medical Director of Florida Department of Health-Duval. “This grant is a step in the right direction and will help us improve contact tracing, provide more culturally appropriate health education, increase our capacity to provide vaccines, and decrease the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

According to the Department of Health, Black and Hispanic residents are at higher risk for poor outcomes due to COVID-19 and have been selected as priority populations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Health Equity Project.

The Department of Health said 8% of white residents have been infected with COVID-19, while 12% of Black residents, 18% of residents of other races, and 10% of Hispanic residents have been infected with COVID-19.

Although Black residents represent 32% of the U.S. population, they account for 40% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Department of Health said.

On Thursday, the federal government’s COVID-19 response team said it will push harder for more people to get vaccinated now that the Delta variant is taking hold. Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed that issue saying it’s happening at a time when restrictions are being lifted.

MORE | CDC estimates delta variant makes up nearly 10% of new COVID-19 cases in US

“Opening up is not synonymous with stopping the push to vaccinate people. So, I think people should not misinterpret that because a city or state is opening up that they are done, no they are not’” Fauci said. ”We are going to continue to push vaccinations into the summer to get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can.”

Chad Neilsen at UF Health Jacksonville says that is vital because of what’s happening with variants and the fact that only 45% of Jacksonville residents have received the shot.

“That it is probably only a matter of time before we do see a variant that is going to cause more problems, whether that’s invading vaccines or making vaccines ineffective against it. And that’s when you hear things about booster shots,” Neilsen said.

There is still no official word from the federal government about booster shots for those already vaccinated, only that they will probably be needed at some point.

According to state data, there have been 100,193 cases of COVID-19 in Jacksonville and 382,348 residents have been vaccinated.

The grant funding spans from July 1, 2021, to May 31, 2023, and will allow the health department to hire a Health Equity team and establish a COVID-19 taskforce as a subcommittee of Duval County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) partnership to provide advice, guidance, and recommendations for addressing COVID-19 disparities and advancing health equity.

The state announced it is closing all state-run vaccination sites on Friday.

But the Duval health department said clinics will start taking walk-ins on June 25 at the South Jacksonville Immunization Center and Pearl Immunization Center. Currently, those sites are only by appointment.

Vaccines are provided at no charge and anyone who gets a shot will receive a $10 food voucher that can be used at many local grocery stores. Food vouchers provided while supplies last.

Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots will be available for walk-ins.

South Jacksonville Immunization Center

Dates and times will be posted on our website at http://duval.floridahealth.gov/events/calendar-of-events.html.

Extended hours will be available on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (closed for lunch 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)

Weekend PODs are scheduled on the second weekend of each month through August, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Pearl Immunization Center

Dates and times will be posted on our website at http://duval.floridahealth.gov/events/calendar-of-events.html.

Extended hours will be available on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (closed for lunch 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)

Weekend PODs are scheduled on the fourth weekend of each month through August, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.