The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is set to expand its Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program to include all HRSA-funded health centers. This will increase the total number of health centers that have been invited to join the program to 1,470 nationwide from the earlier 950.
This expansion will be made through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This move is part of President Joe Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness to ensuring that all of the nation’s underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated.
The vaccine program began on February 9 with 250 select health centers and was expanded to an additional 700 health centers on March 11. The latest expansion includes an additional 520 health centers that operate over 2,500 service delivery sites.
Approximately 70 percent of those who have received a vaccine through the program are racial or ethnic minorities.
Health centers across the nation are playing vital roles in supporting local community responses to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Over 91 percent of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63 percent are racial or ethnic minorities.
The addition of more community health centers to the vaccine program will ensure that the vaccine is accessed by those who need them most and those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HRSA-funded health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care to nearly 30 million patients each year.
In later March, HHS had expanded access to COVID-19 vaccines for older adults and people with disabilities. It provided nearly $100 million in grants to aging and disability networks in every state and territory to boost vaccinations to this group.
A week prior to that, the Biden Administration also announced a series of actions to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines to the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities across the country. President Biden announced a target of administering 200 million COVID vaccine shots in people’s arms by his 100th day in office.
In mid-March, the Biden Administration announced an investment of $150 million to expand access to COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapeutic treatments for patients in vulnerable or underserved communities across the country to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
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