Biden admin to invest $10B to boost vaccine uptake in underserved communities

Biden admin to invest $10B to boost vaccine uptake in underserved communities
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The Biden administration is announcing Thursday that it will invest nearly $10 billion to expand access to coronavirus vaccines and increase uptake in the hardest hit and underserved communities in the coming weeks.

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to send billions to support community health centers and workers and state and local vaccine outreach as part of the administration’s response to the pandemic, according to a fact sheet distributed by the White House. Most of the funds come from the newly-passed $1.9 trillion rescue package that Biden and his administration shepherded through Congress.

In particular, HHS is making a $6 billion investment in community health centers across the country to expand access to coronavirus vaccines, testing and treatment. The funding will be provided to roughly 1,400 community health centers beginning next month through the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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The administration is inviting community health centers participating in the federal program to expand eligibility for vaccines to essential workers and those age 16 and over with underlying medical conditions. It is also launching a new program with dialysis clinics to provide vaccines to their patients and health care workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also investing $3 billion in supporting state and local efforts to boost vaccine uptake in minority and rural communities and other hard-hit areas. CDC plans to make the awards next month, which will go to states, territories and some cities.

The particular announcement comes as the administration grapples with how to overcome vaccine hesitancy, or the unwillingness to receive vaccines, so that enough of the public receives coronavirus vaccines for the U.S. population to reach herd immunity.

The fact sheet says that the funds could support faith-based organizations conducting door-to-door outreach on vaccine appointments or extended hours for community health workers who conduct bilingual outreach.

Finally, the CDC is also investing over $330 million in jurisdictions for community health workers to support COVID-19 prevention efforts, including testing, contact tracing and vaccines.

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Biden has said the U.S. will have enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of May and directed states to make all adults eligible to receive vaccines by May 1. It’s likely to take longer to actually vaccinate all adults, health experts caution.

The announcement is the latest from the administration on its efforts to swiftly use the funds allocated in the massive coronavirus relief package that Biden signed into law on March 11.

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it is releasing $81 billion in funding for school reopenings. The Treasury Department said that as of Wednesday it had distributed 127 million direct payments authorized by the plan.