LGBT organizations using $100,000 grant toward vaccination efforts

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two local organizations are putting a $100,000 grant to use in the spirit of helping specific groups of people get vaccinated.

"We know that people are really thinking really hard right now about whether they should be getting the vaccine or not. Unfortunately, our rates across North Carolina are way too low of folks getting vaccinated," said Lee Storrow with the NC Aids Action Network.

He said that why they were elated to be a part of the $100,000 grant given by the CDC and Community Catalyst for getting the vaccine to local communities.

"Our focus, and the focus of this project is really helping to grow the number of community leaders across our country, across Raleigh across North Carolina, who are sharing with their constituents, the importance of getting vaccinated," he said.

The LGBT center in Raleigh is also on the receiving end of the grant.

This program is supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of this program, a diverse group of community members and leaders will be trained to share relevant messages about the importance of getting vaccinated, and vaccine clinics geared toward gay residents, minorities and people who are homeless will be hosted.

Development director Andi Espenshade hopes it will make a big impact on the community.

"Being able to bring this to those communities and folks within the LGBT community who either don't have immediate access or are adverse to seeking medical treatment due to previous homophobic interactions with medical providers," Espenshade said.

Negative experiences have been a major reason some have chosen not to seek the vaccine, Espenshade said.

"Within the LGBT community sadly, it is a common experience of folks will go to their primary care physician about something about the LGBT identity and will be faced with either just unwelcoming or an unsafe environment because they have to out themselves to their doctor," he said.

On Saturday, both organizations will be hosting a vaccine event at 1 p.m. at Ruby Deluxe to be a safe space to ask questions and get the vaccine.

There will be HIV and STI testing available, and if you get a vaccine you also get a free drink.

"As an organization, we are wary with all these other variants popping up as well, but because the vaccines are preventing folks being hospitalized by the COVID-19 virus, we are suggesting the folks still get vaccinated when possible," Espenshade said.
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