Biden Boosts Efforts to Get Vaccines to Hard-Hit Parts of U.S.

The Biden administration will steer nearly $10 billion toward bolstering Covid-19 vaccine access for vulnerable U.S. communities that have suffered the most from the pandemic -- including funding aimed at encouraging people to get inoculated.

The money, largely from the $1.9 trillion relief package passed earlier this month, will expand Biden’s efforts to help disadvantaged parts of the country, including Black and Latino communities where people are more likely to fall ill with coronavirus and die from it.

The administration detailed the measures in an announcement released Thursday morning.

The funding includes more than $6 billion for community health centers, to which President Joe Biden has directed vaccines in an effort to close a gap that has emerged in inoculations, with White people getting a disproportionate share of shots so far.

The Department of Health and Human Services will expand vaccinations, testing and treatments and increase capacity for the health centers beginning next month, the administration said.

The Biden administration is also expanding eligibility for people to get vaccines at those health centers, adding frontline essential workers and all adults with high-risk conditions, it said.

The plan also includes $3 billion in funding for states, territories and some large cities, which the administration didn’t identify, to start programs to expand vaccine access.

The administration will also launch a program to give shots at dialysis clinics. Over half of dialysis patients are Black or Latino, according to the statement. The announcement also includes financing for health workers to administer the vaccine, test people and run contact tracing.

Biden has taken a series of steps aimed at shrinking the equity gap of the pandemic, which has disproportionately sickened and killed people of color. Biden has appointed a health equity task force to draw up recommendations, and sent vaccine doses directly to pharmacies and community health centers in high-need communities.

It’s an uphill struggle, as data show that White people are continuing to disproportionately receive the vaccine. In all U.S. states that provide demographic data, Black and Latino people have so far received a lower share of doses than their share of the population, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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