The White House said Thursday that the Biden administration will dedicate nearly $10 billion to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines for the high risk communities that have been struck hard by the pandemic, while also funneling resources into boosting vaccine confidence across the country.
“Equity is at the center of the Administration’s COVID-19 response,” the White House said in a statement Thursday announcing that the Department of Health and Human Services would dedicate $6 billion from the COVID-19 economic relief law to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities and $3 billion to strengthen vaccine confidence. The funding will be made available in early April.
HHS, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will also provide $300 million for community health worker services to support COVID-19 prevention and control and an additional $32 million for training, technical assistance, and evaluation, the White House said. The funding will be used to address “disparities in access to COVID-19 related services, such as testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations,” the White House said. It is also expected to target factors that increase risk of severe COVID-19 illness such as chronic diseases, pregnancy, and food insecurity.
The administration also announced expanded vaccine eligibility to patients served by community health centers participating in the federal Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program, making patients, including front line essential workers, at those centers eligible for vaccines.
The White House also reported that its existing efforts to set up federally-run community vaccination centers in hard-hit areas and to distribute vaccines to local pharmacies and Community Health Centers that disproportionately serve vulnerable populations had yielded results, noting that 60 percent of doses at federally-run Community Vaccination sites were administered to people of color. “These actions are garnering initial results,” the White House said, adding: “But there is more work to do.”
Noting the high incidence of kidney disease among people of color, the White House announced it would launch a new partnership with dialysis clinics to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to people receiving dialysis at clinics and health care workers serving at treatment centers.
The administration announced last week that it had surpassed its goal of administering 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses within Biden’s first 100 days in office.
President Joe Biden has pledged that all adults in the United States will have access for vaccines by May 1, a deadline that was moved up from more conservative estimates that projected widespread access to the shots for all American adults wouldn’t be possible until later in the summer.