United Way of Washtenaw County joins statewide vaccination effort

Michigan aims to vaccinate 70% of residents

FILE - In this March 29, 2021 file photo, a worker readies syringes with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Metairie, La. Moderna plans to expand the size of its study in younger children to better detect rare side effects. The company said Monday, July 26, 2021 it is in talks with the Food and Drug Administration to enroll more patients in its study of the vaccine in children under 12 years old and younger. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Gerald Herbert, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ANN ARBOR – The United Way of Washtenaw County has joined the Vaccinate the Great Lakes State campaign to meet the statewide goal of getting 70 percent of Michiganders vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of July 31, 54 percent of residents were fully vaccinated, according to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

The Vaccinate the Great Lakes State initiative was launched by the Michigan Association of United Ways and the Michigan Nonprofit Association to encourage vaccine uptake. United Way offices across the state will act as hubs in high-need counties.

“United Way of Washtenaw County is pleased to collaborate with our local partners; the Washtenaw County Health Department Vaccine Ambassador program, the WISD Trusted Advisor program and a coalition of BIPOC churches to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” president and CEO of United Way of Washtenaw County, Pam Smith, said in a statement.

“When we LIVE UNITED, positive change can impact our community’s results.”

Michigan has yet to hit its vaccination goal due to vaccine hesitancy and access barriers. According to United Way, “there is a clear unmet need for localized outreach, communication and coordination to ensure equitable vaccine uptake occurs in Michigan.”

According to a news release, the Michigan Association of United Ways will advance the vaccination campaign by:

  • Forming a state-level steering committee composed of statewide organizations that represent the groups serving hard-to-reach communities, including the Michigan Primary Care Association and Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Initiating statewide communications with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and CDC, and making those resources widely available to local nonprofits
  • Assisting nonprofits in identifying and reaching vulnerable populations
  • Awarding mini-grants to local nonprofits to target fieldwork and engagement
  • Collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data to assist local efforts

“From working with our state-level steering committee to our exceptional United Way hubs, mini-grant recipients and nonprofits, I am incredibly proud to be an advocate for MAUW’s Vaccine the Great Lakes State program,” president and CEO of MAUW Mike Lawson said in a statement.

“Our local United Ways, especially, are the backbone of our mission and, as we continue to push toward that 70% vaccination rate, I am confident that these efforts will propel our state forward toward stronger health, education and financial stability.”

The state of Michigan has made a $2.5 million investment in the project, which received a $2.5 million match from private donors.

Efforts will be focused on outreach where it’s needed most -- in both high-density urban and rural areas.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.