OneHolyoke CDC Gets Grant

OneHolyoke CDC awarded grant to continue COVID vaccine and safety outreach

By Dennis Hohenberger | Special to The Republican

HOLYOKE – OneHolyoke CDC has received funding for COVID-19 vaccine and safety outreach as the city tries to crack the 50% vaccination mark.

The housing nonprofit was awarded the funds through the Massachusetts COVID-19 Community Grants Program from Health Resources in Action and the state Department of Public Health.

Nayroby Rosa-Soriano, a director with OneHolyoke, said the goal is to increase vaccination numbers in Holyoke. As of May 19, 36.2% of residents were fully vaccinated, below the statewide average of nearly 50% of all adults.

“We are pivoting our strategies and figuring out creative ways to educate our community to get vaccinated,” Rosa-Soriano stated.

The grant will allow trained OneHolyoke staff to offer education and information about vaccination efforts in the city and “continued education about mitigation strategies.”

Based in The Flats neighborhood, the nonprofit will host a series of outdoor and livestreamed events that will let residents speak directly to health care providers.

OneHolyoke has increased staffing for personal protection equipment distribution and education outreach at locations around Holyoke. The outreach includes:

  • door knocking
  • webpagewith blogs and videos
  • links for identifying COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites

“The COVID-19 Community Grant was awarded to OneHolyoke to engage the Holyoke community by developing and delivering effective messages and further support to the hard-hit community with education, training, and outreach to effectively meet Holyoke’s specific needs,” a statement from the organization said.

The information component will focus on primarily Hispanic locales in Holyoke, including The Flats, South Holyoke, Churchill and downtown, and “address the disproportionate spread of the virus among communities of color.”

Around 25% of Latinos have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines in Hampden County, according to the May 19 figures cited by OneHolyoke. Informational material will be in English and Spanish.

While the Moderna and Pfizer two-dose regimens are spread over three weeks, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered in one dose.

“Communities of color in Massachusetts are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 in terms of infection, illness and death,” stated OneHolyoke. “The goal of COVID-19 Community Grants is to reduce COVID-19 infections, morbidity and mortality among Black, Latino, and other people of color in the hardest-hit cities in the Commonwealth.”

OneHolyoke used a previous grant for preventing and reducing the coronavirus’s spread through an educational initiative.

“Now that vaccines are more readily available, this new round of funding will focus on educating Holyoke residents about the vaccine and where they can get vaccinated,” read the statement.