Special to The Dallas Examiner
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced Monday that all HRSA-funded health centers and Health Center Program look-alikes will now be invited to participate in the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. These health centers will have the opportunity to join the program as soon as they are ready, increasing the total number of health centers that have been invited to 1,470 nationwide. This expansion will be made through the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This expansion of the vaccine program is part of President Joe Biden’s commitment to ensuring that all of the nation’s underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated. This voluntary program started on Feb. 9 with 250 select health centers, then expanded on March 11 to invite an additional 700 health centers. For this phase, an additional 520 health centers that operate over 2,500 service delivery sites are now eligible to participate. Approximately 70% of those who have received a vaccine through the program are racial or ethnic minorities.
“Increasing access to vaccines among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic is critical. By adding to the number of community health centers participating in this program, we will help make sure shots are getting to those who need them most,” Becerra said. “The medical professionals at these local health centers already have trusted relationships in these communities, and this expansion will ensure every community health center in the country can be a part of our vaccination effort.”
HRSA-funded health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality and cost-effective primary health care to nearly 30 million patients each year. Over 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63% are racial or ethnic minorities. Health centers across the nation are playing vital roles in supporting local community responses to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
To view a list of the health centers participating in or invited to join the program please visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/health-center-program. To locate a HRSA-funded health center, visit: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.