The funding would mainly come from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) said in the release.
“Equity is at the center of the Administration’s COVID-19 response,” the HRSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said. “The President has set up federally-run community vaccination centers in hard-hit areas; sent vaccines directly to local pharmacies and Community Health Centers that disproportionately serve vulnerable populations; launched hundreds of mobile clinics to meet people where they are; and created the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force ... But there is more work to do. That is why we’re doubling down on the progress we are seeing through federal programs."
The administration said HHS will invest $6 billion from the stimulus package into community health centers to increase access to vaccines, testing and treatment and the HRSA plans to fund nearly 1,400 centers nationwide starting in April. HRSA said health care centers serve an outsized percentage of patients under the poverty line.
Centers participating in the federal Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program will also be allowed to expand access to the vaccine to frontline essential workers and those 16 and older with underlying conditions, meaning 83% of health center patients would be eligible, HRSA said.
“This follows the President’s announcement that all adults will be eligible for vaccinations no later than May 1,” the release said. “Today’s news will enable more people in need to receive vaccine doses.”
In addition, another $3 billion will be donated by HHS through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early April to bolster local efforts in areas hit hardest by the pandemic for vaccine access and confidence, amid concerns some groups are hesitant to get vaccinated.
The administration said it also plans to give vaccines directly to dialysis clinics across the country so dialysis patients can get a vaccine at their treatment center. Dialysis patients have a coronavirus mortality rate of 20 to 30%, the release said.
Finally, $330 million will be donated to address disparities in access to testing and vaccines and look into factors that up the risk for the virus like chronic diseases, pregnancy and hunger.
More than 46 million Americans, around 14% of the population, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.