Critical program providing assistance for underserved community to access COVID-19 vaccine

PITTSBURGH — With more Pennsylvanians receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, the Community Health Choices (CHC) program is designed to help the most vulnerable, including those on Medicaid, receive the vaccine.

In the commonwealth, 350,000 people are part of the CHC program, including senior citizens, people with disability and communities of color.

The state considers those groups at-risk for Coronavirus and having trouble accessing vaccination centers.

In western Pennsylvania, UPMC is in the process of finding a solution.

“Challenges the population face range from accessing online tools to questions about the vaccine itself; as well as difficulties with transportation,” said Brendan Harris, UPMC Community HealthChoice.

The providers are helping participants work through barriers.

As of Tuesday, 130,000 community HealthChoice members have received their first COVID-19 vaccine through UPMC’s program.

“Even though the numbers may look small, when you look at who we are targeting I think this is a really important effort-- again with that equity focus very much in mind as we’re doing this work,” said Harris.

With Pennsylvania entering a new phase of vaccine distribution, the state says this program is even more important to make sure high-risk individuals are not left behind and still can get access to the COVID-19 vaccine.