HHS Announces New $350 Million Initiative to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations HHS Announces New $350 Million Initiative to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations

HHS will allocate funding to health centers to support community vaccination events and outreach focused on underserved populations

Today, the U.S. 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 scale up COVID-19 vaccines in their communities, with specific focus on underserved populations. This funding will support health centers administering updated COVID-19 vaccines through mobile events, drive-thru vaccination events, walking or community vaccination, including working with community organizations and other efforts to increase uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Community health centers save lives,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We will continue to reach, vaccinate and protect our most vulnerable people across the country, working together with public health centers and community-based organizations.” We’ve seen an increase in COVID infections in previous winters, and that’s not necessarily the case this year. We now have updated COVID-19 vaccines to protect communities from the Omicron strain. Our message is simple: Don’t wait. Get an updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall. It is safe and effective.”

“As community-based organizations that have built deep relationships with their patients and neighborhoods, health centers are uniquely positioned to increase vaccination coverage against COVID-19,” said HRSA Administrator Carol Johnson. “These funds will ensure that people living in underserved communities have access to updated COVID-19 vaccines this winter through community vaccination events hosted by health care providers and organizations they trust.”

The COVID-19 Vaccination Expansion Initiative will provide resources directly to health centers across the country to increase COVID-19 vaccinations this winter by addressing the unique barriers to access faced by the underserved populations that the health centers serve . HRSA expects these efforts to also increase flu vaccinations for children through combined vaccination events. All health centers funded by HRSA, as well as similar health centers that received funding from America’s Rescue Plan, will be eligible. These funds build on previous investments made in HRSA-funded COVID-19 health centers and will help even more Americans have access to updated COVID-19 vaccines. To date, health centers have administered more than 22 million vaccines in underserved communities across the country, 70 percent of them to racial and ethnic minority patients.

To facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccination, the initiative will foster new and enhanced coordination with community-based organizations that provide child care, early childhood development, housing, food, employment, education, seniors, or behavioral health services . Health centers will be encouraged to support mobile events, drive-thru vaccination events, walking or community-based vaccination events; extend off-site vaccination hours, coverage, and locations to expand COVID-19 vaccination opportunities; and support access to COVID-19 vaccination by expanding transportation, translation, education, and interpreting services.

Nearly 1,400 HRSA-funded community health centers serve as a national source of primary care in underserved communities, providing services through more than 14,000 locations nationwide. They are community-based and patient-centered organizations that provide affordable, accessible and high-quality medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 30 million patients each year, with specific initiatives designed to reach people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers , and residents of public housing.

In 2021, HRSA-funded health centers provided care to one in five rural residents 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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