Signage directs people through the mass vaccination site at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine is getting $18 million from the federal government to reduce racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations.

That comes as Maine has seen significant racial disparities throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with Black Mainers accounting for more than a quarter of coronavirus cases even though they comprise only 1 percent of the state’s population.

Seventy-five percent of the funding must be allocated to increasing vaccine awareness, acceptance and participation in minority communities, while 60 percent must go to local health departments and community-based organizations or health centers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which awarded Maine the funding.

As part of the effort to reach underserved communities, funding could be used to train community members in conducting door-to-door outreach, as well as helping to identify and train bilingual outreach participants to provide accurate health care information to immigrant and non-English speaking communities.

Last summer, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said it is working to improve how it serves Maine’s minority communities.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.