Abilene Taylor Co. Public health district gets $400k grant to educate POC, LGBTQIA+ community on COVID


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A $400,000 grant will be used to educate Abilene’s LGBTQIA+ community and citizens of color about the importance of vaccines, two groups that are nationally disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

“Our goal is just to go out in the communities, hear from them. What are their barriers, what are their questions?” said Annette Lerma, director of public health. 

Lerma says they chose these communities because they are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and have more comorbidities, making them more susceptible to the virus. 

“Establishing relationships, increasing accurate information to those populations, but also just to make sure that we can get those people vaccinated,” said Lerma. 

James Wagstaff, LGBTQIA+ health advocate, says the grant is a blessing. 

“Everybody needs to be educated from a medical perspective,” said Wagstaff. 

Which is why the focus of the Abilene Pride Alliances first parade was going to be about encouraging vaccines.

“I know that the LGBTQIA community here in Abilene certainly respects and wants to be a part of ending the COVID pandemic,” said Wagstaff. 

Due to the latest spike in COVID cases, they opted to cancel their event. 

“It was really going to be a tremendous partnership,” said Wagstaff. 

While Wagstaff says he’s sad they can’t have this year’s events, he says he is happy to continue working with the health district so they can have events in the future. 

The health district also received a $1.5 million work force grant to expand, train & sustain public health workforce to support COVID-19 prevention, preparedness, response & recovery efforts. 

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