Reporter Sabrina Moreno asked Dr. Danny Avula at a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) teleconference on March 26 if Virginia planned to do what Maryland’s governor had done a few weeks previously in reserving a portion of doses at each of its COVID-19 vaccination sites “for priority populations, you know, Black and Latino populations, lower income areas, to kind of help with that equitable distribution.”
Dr. Avula, who is state vaccine coordinator, said:
We’ve been doing a lot of that in a lot of our mass vaccination events… We do a combination of weighting our pre-registration… Say for example, if we have a 2,000-person event in Richmond, we would set a certain number of those slots for people that are on the wait list, and then a certain number of those slots for people on the wait list who are African-Americans, so that we can more mirror the demographics of the population.
He went on to say that different health districts might vary in their weighting methodology, “but we definitely have been weighting the preregistration lists for African-American and Latino communities. And I think it’s made a difference.”
Avula pointed to an increase African-American vaccinations as a percentage of the total from 13% to 14% over the previous two weeks. He observed that in Prince William County, “We’ve got a number of slots a day, about 200 slots a day that we are reserving outside of the preregistration process for those racial equity-targeted kind of interventions.”
That fits with other statements he has made.
Preregistration is a deterrent for some folks, whether it’s not being tech savvy enough to navigate a site, or being really wary of putting all of your information on a government-run website… It’s clear that there are segments of our community who aren’t going to register through that pathway. And so, we’ve definitely created different avenues, both through the reservation of slots in areas where we have a little more flexibility to do walk-ups, having a certain segment of a clinic available to walk-ups that are generated through that specific outreach.
Avula mentioned “doing a lot more work on the ground to address issues of vaccine hesitancy” with contractors Greene Street and Elite. He didn’t mention the cost or other contract details. A look at the eVa state procurement site provides some insight into the VDH plans.
Greene Street VDEM contract 3/24/21 $1.56 million.
For a project manager, administrative associate, and ten Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Outreach Coordinators to support each VDEM region with outreach efforts, particularly for historically underserved populations. (Coordinators hourly salaries $230.25 to 325. for 560 hours of work each.)
- to assist with vaccination event efforts in these communities and working with trusted messengers to develop targeted messaging.
- to assist the Joint Information Center (JIC) with reporting to the Director of Community Outreach under the Health Equity Task Force. March 4, 2021 – June 30, 2021.
Greenstreet Advertising – 2/24/21 Contract $1 million.
- 6-month plan of tasks, goals, metrics -A strategic outreach plan to target Virginia’s Black communities -Monthly plan of outreach initiatives
- Six months (01/29/21), July 30, 2021 or end of Declared State of Emergency, whichever comes first.
Greene Street Communications 12/21/20 Contract $325,342.84.
- 6 – Large Billboard Campaign in select regions (not highway) (Central VA, Northern VA and Hampton Roads) with targeted audiences for 4 weeks.
- 6 – Large Billboard Campaign in select regions (Highway) (Central VA, Northern VA and Hampton Roads) with targeted audiences for 4 weeks.
- 4 weeks – Geofencing digital ad campaign targeting select regions (Central VA, Northern VA and Hampton Roads) with targeted audiences for 4 weeks
- Broadcast radio ad campaign targeting select regions (Central VA, Northern VA and Hampton Roads) for 4 weeks. Estimates of weekly advertising costs are based on location using top performing radio stations. 2 ads per region 15 spots from Monday through Friday and 5 spots on the weekend. Spanish language versions created for Spanish radio.
- Radio.com streaming platform ad campaign targeting select regions (Central VA, Eastern VA, Northern VA and Hampton Roads) for 4 weeks. **Radio.com platform which reaches 68 million users across the US. For VA, we can geo target the streaming campaign to the Commonwealth of Virginia at a $10 NET CPM for a :30 second commercial. For example, 1,000,000 impressions @$10 cpm is $10,000.
- Language Translation Services Translation services will vary greatly depending on the content and quantity of language translations needed. Greene Street proposes an initial budget for the intended scope of work.
- 3 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subject Matter Experts 50 hours each at $200 to 285/hr
- 1,260 hours others, per diems and hotel accommodation
Greene Street Communications 12/21/20 Contract $280,302.66. More billboards
Greene Street Communications 12/12/20 Contract $247,890.96. More billboards
Total: Greene Street $3,416,233.26
Elite Business Strategies 3/8/21 Contract $6,031,259.
- Support vaccine distribution to serve minority populations in the Commonwealth of Virginia
- Systematically managing necessary resources and partnerships to formulate a successful outreach campaign of COVID vaccination literacy, education, and awareness, particularly among vulnerable populations
- Help reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Commonwealth with a laser focus on marginalized and minority communities
- Increase the number of those being vaccinated throughout the Commonwealth, including reluctant communities
- Driving the Commonwealth’s ambassador program that can support a sustainable vaccination plan to inspire confidence in making the decision to be vaccinated
Total for both companies: $9,447,492.26
Notice a pattern here?
Weighting preregistration vaccine lists for African-American and Latino communities.
Reserving slots outside of the preregistration process for “racial equity targeted kind of interventions.”
Support each VDEM region with outreach efforts, particularly for historically underserved populations.
Reporting to the Director of Community Outreach under the Health Equity Task Force
Strategic outreach plan to target Virginia’s Black communities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subject Matter Experts.
Support vaccine distribution to serve minority populations.
A laser focus on marginalized and minority communities.
I suppose we could squeeze Native Americans and Asians in under minority communities, but can reluctant and vulnerable communities include white Virginians? Sure doesn’t look that way.
And the worst of this is that the Virginia Department of Health doesn’t even know the race or ethnicity of 910,315 people who’ve had at least one dose of vaccine, or the 217,324 vaccinated since the last breakdown of the demographics. That’s 1,127,639 unknown of 2,633,689 – 43%.
Whatever happened to the idea of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all? Get rid of the divisiveness and concentrate on our shared humanity as Virginians. Prioritizing one racial group or another for vaccinations isn’t going to shut this virus down. We’re all in this together.