BINGHAMTON, NY – A local group is working to ensure that underserved populations don’t get left behind when it comes to vaccine distribution.

The Southern Tier Health Equity Task Force was established under a mandate from Governor Cuomo when he created the regional hubs to oversee the vaccination rollout.

The group had been meeting for weeks to lay the groundwork for pop-up clinics like the 2 that took place in Binghamton and Endicott the week before last.

They sought partners such as the Broome County Office for Aging, senior housing developments and local faith-based organizations to help identify people of color and undocumented immigrants who may have barriers to accessing the vaccines.

The task force also helped to identify potential clinic sites while considering available space, transportation, staff for set-up and break-down and the availability of language interpreters.

LoriAnne Welch of the Broome County United Way serves as one of the co-chairs.

Welch says the task force worked with UHS, the county and the state to develop a plan that helped make the first pop-up clinics a success.

“We need to meet these individuals where they are and then give them the voice to lead us in this effort. And that’s only going to happen through the relationships they have and through their trusted networks. So, that is what this effort is all about,” says Welch.

Welch says that because many in the underserved populations do not have reliable access to the internet or simply don’t use it, the task force is especially reliant on community networks to spread information about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

The group also helped to arrange 2 similar pop-up PODS in Chemung County the week before last.