Biden administration spending $121M to boost vaccinations in underserved communities

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The Biden administration is allocating $121 million to increase coronavirus vaccinations in underserved communities across the U.S. as the country’s inoculation rate plateaus and cases rise.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Tuesday that it will distribute $121 million to more than 100 community-based organizations in the U.S. to help push vaccinations in underserved areas of the country.

The money, which comes from the American Rescue Plan, will go towards supporting partnerships between academic and community-based organizations, such as churches and local fire departments, in an effort to boost COVID-19 literacy and inoculation rates in rural counties.

Additionally, the funds will support African American, Latino and Tribal partnerships, according to HHS, which “engage clergy, churchgoers, adolescents, and others with trusted information about vaccines and work within their communities to get more people vaccinated.”

Nonprofit private or public organizations were allowed to apply for the grants, including local and regional community-based organizations that had previous involvement in public health programs, specifically those that are in medically underserved areas, CBS News reported. Tribes and tribal organizations were reportedly included in this description.

Outside experts who sat on a panel reportedly assessed the applications.

“We understand the important role trusted messengers in local communities play to help people make informed health care decisions, including whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the funding.

“Today’s investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to strengthen equity and support organizations that focus on underserved communities as they work to increase vaccinations and keep people safe and healthy,” he added.

The move comes after the White House announced last week that new funding would be allocated for vaccinations and testing efforts amid the spread of the delta variant.

The administration said roughly $100 million would be released for rural health clinics to help with vaccine outreach, as many rural areas have lower vaccination rates. Local health clinics have become a trusted source for information about vaccines.

The administration also announced $1.6 billion to support testing in prisons, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and other congregate settings.

Vaccinations have plateaued in recent weeks, as those who are vaccine-hesitant continue to oppose getting inoculated.

At the same time, the number of infections in the U.S. have increased, largely driven by the highly infectious delta variant. The majority of new hospitalizations and deaths have been among those who are unvaccinated.

Updated 5:02 p.m.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine Xavier Becerra
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