Harrisburg University leader serving on Governor’s racial equity vaccine task force

Vaccination Frustration

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Harrisburg University official is being asked to help the Wolf Administration make sure those impacted by COVID-19 are getting vaccines.

According to the CDC, people of color are more likely to get the virus and die from it. To Geoffrey Roche of Harrisburg University, this is unacceptable.

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When the pandemic first started, Roche was asked to be part of the COVID-19 advisory committee — so it’s fitting that he finishes what he started by joining the Governor’s racial equity committee.

“I’m here to serve. I’m here to be a resource, and I’m gonna do everything I can to help move us forward,” Roche said.

For the past year, Roche has been focused on helping communities of color get proper care.

“We have — you know — been at the table making recommendations from the very beginning. In fact, we made 67 recommendations that went to the governor’s office — many of which have been acted upon,” said Roche, executive director of strategic healthcare initiatives and partnerships, Harrisburg University.

Now, the focus is on getting those communities vaccinated.

“Collaboration is a two-way effort. It’s important that we hear from partners on the ground working closely with residents,” said David Saunders, director of the Office of Health Equity.

Those partners help build trust in the vaccine while tackling another problem.

“We’ve gotta deal with issues like systemic racism,” Roche said.

It’s no easy task, but Roche said it’s possible with the right legislative partners.

“We have to look at laws. We have to look at regulations. We have to literally go from local government to state government to federal government,” Roche said.

He’s serious about the “we.” Roche said acknowledging other peoples’ struggles and volunteering at

“It exists in every aspect of our society — in every aspect — and therefore it’s my job to lift that up and find allies that are going to help us address it,” Roche said.

For more information about the state’s health equity action plan, visit the Pa. Department of Health website.

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