WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative receives funding to reduce vaccine hesitancy

Person holding vaccination card in front of U.S. flag.

Release Date: May 19, 2021

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Portrait of Gene Morse.
“The rapid advances in SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and prevention and the availability of vaccines, treatment and rapid testing have magnified gaps in our distribution and administration to those who need them most within our region — people who are of color, older adults and low-income communities. ”
Gene Morse, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Western New York COVID-19 Research Collaborative has received a $55,000 grant from The John R. Oishei Foundation to promote vaccine acceptance in the region.

Through the project, the collaborative will interview community leaders to discuss concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccination among medically underserved populations, distribute educational materials on vaccine development, and host informative events that allow community members to ask researchers and clinicians questions about vaccination.

Formed in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative works to bridge communities, businesses and schools with clinics, hospitals, colleges and health department programs to conduct COVID-19 testing, prevention, research, treatment and vaccination, as well as implement projects that foster a safe return to school and work.

“The rapid advances in SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and prevention and the availability of vaccines, treatment and rapid testing have magnified gaps in our distribution and administration to those who need them most within our region — people who are of color, older adults and low-income communities,” says Gene Morse, PharmD, co-director of the WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“This important new initiative builds a foundation supporting health and research programs across Western New York, and avoids the silos that too often limit the impact of regional research collaborations,” said James Mohler, MD, co-director of the WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative, and also chief of inter-institutional academics and chair emeritus of the Department of Urology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Members of the WNY COVID-19 Research Collaborative include Buffalo Medical Group, Catholic Health, Circuit Clinical, Frontier Science, Great Lakes Health System, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, UB, UBMD, Urban Family Practice, WNY Medical and You First Services.

Partnering organizations include the African American Health Equity Task Force, Buffalo Center for Health Equity, COVID-19 Community Response Project and WNY STEM.

“We are pleased to be able to support this initiative that will help to identify and educate those who are hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Esther Annan, program officer of The John R. Oishei Foundation. “As a public health issue, increasing vaccine rates is critical, and for many individuals, a better understanding of the risks and benefits of vaccination can make a significant impact, specifically in communities that have less access to health care overall.”

The John R. Oishei Foundation is a comprehensive private foundation in Western New York focusing on a broad range of interrelated issues and offering philanthropic support that goes far beyond funding. Its mission is to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership and network-building. The foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corporation.

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