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Maine's Indigenous And Immigrant Groups Partnering to Improve Vaccine Access

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John Locher
People prepare does of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Martin Luther King Senior Center, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in North Las Vegas. The "pop-up" clinic was held to serve under-vaccinated areas in Las Vegas.

Several groups supporting Maine's immigrant and indigenous communities are partnering to improve access to vaccines for COVID-19 and fight misinformation about the shot.

A federal grant will help to fund services including pop-up clinics, transportation to appointments, and educational campaigns around the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Lisa Sockabasin is the director of Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness. She says because groups such as hers already know the challenges faced by their communities, they can make it easier for members to receive their shots.

"So it really is about the community serving the community, and building the infrastructure for that to happen," Sockabasin says.

Abdulkarim Said, the director of the Lewiston-based New Mainers Public Health Initiative, says many teenagers in his community are hesitant to receive their vaccine because of false information shared on social media sites such as TikTok.

He says his organization is recruiting and training trusted members of immigrant communities - including fellow students and doctors - to share factual information about the vaccines.

"They really need a lot of education, those kids. So that's what we're targeting now," Said says.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Native American, Black and Hispanic people, who all report much higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths compared to the overall population.