HHS announces new $350 million initiative to increase COVID-19 vaccinations HHS announces new $350 million initiative to increase COVID-19 vaccinations

HHS will distribute funds to health centers to support community-based immunization programs and focus on underserved populations

Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a new $350 million initiative for HRSA-supported health centers to increase COVID-19 vaccines in their communities. Focus on underserved populations. This funding will support health centers administering updated COVID-19 vaccines through mobile, drive-up, walk-up, or community-based vaccination programs, including working with community-based organizations and providing access to COVID-19 vaccines Other efforts to enhance the administration of the ,

HHS Secretary Javier Becerra said, “Community health centers save lives.” “We will continue to reach, vaccinate and protect our most vulnerable across the country, working closely with community health centers and community-based organizations. We have seen a spike in Covid infections last winter, and this should not happen this year. Now we have updated COVID-19 vaccines to protect communities against the Omicron strain. Our message is simple: don’t wait. Get the updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall. It’s safe and effective.”

“As community-based organizations that have built deep relationships with their patients and neighborhoods, health centers are uniquely positioned to increase COVID-19 immunizations,” said HRSA Administrator Carol Johnson. “These funds will ensure that people who live in under-served communities have access to updated COVID-19 vaccines through community-based vaccination programs organized by health care providers and organizations they trust. “

The Expanded COVID-19 Vaccination Initiative will provide resources directly to health centers across the country to increase COVID-19 vaccinations this winter, addressing unique access barriers experienced by underserved populations of health centers. HRSA anticipates that these efforts will also increase flu and childhood vaccinations through joint vaccination programs. All HRSA-funded health centers, as well as health centers receiving American Rescue Plan funds, would be equally eligible. These funds build on previous investments made by HRSA in health centers to combat COVID-19 and will help more Americans access updated COVID-19 vaccines. To date, the health centers have administered more than 22 million vaccines in underserved communities nationwide, with 70 percent of them administered to patients from racial and ethnic minorities.

To facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccinations, the initiative will foster new and stronger coordination with community-based organizations that provide childcare, early childhood development, housing, food, employment, education, older adults, or behavioral health services provide. Health centers will be encouraged to support mobile, drive-up, walk-up or community-based immunization programs; expand operating hours, outreach and off-site vaccination locations to expand opportunities for COVID-19 vaccinations; and support access to COVID-19 vaccination by expanding transportation, translation, education, and interpretation services.

Nearly 1,400 HRSA-funded community health centers serve as the national source of primary care in disadvantaged communities, providing services through more than 14,000 sites across the country. They are community-based and patient-directed organizations that provide affordable, accessible, and high-quality medical, dental, and behavioral health services to more than 30 million patients each year, with special initiatives aimed at those experiencing homelessness. people, agricultural workers, and residents of public housing.

In 2021, HRSA-funded health centers will provide care for one in five residents in rural areas and one in eleven nationwide. One in three health center patients live in poverty, and nearly two-thirds are racial/ethnic minorities.

Learn more about the Health Center Program: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/about-health-centers/health-center-program-impact-growth

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