Biden Opens Up Vaccine Program to Community Health Centers

President Joe Biden will offer Covid-19 vaccine shipments to all of the nation’s community health centers, adding 2,500 delivery sites in a program aimed at closing the racial gap in inoculations.

The White House announced Wednesday that more such centers will be eligible to receive vaccine shipments. Another 520 will be eligible, increasing the total to about 1,470 across the U.S., an official familiar with the plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 520 new health centers operate more than 2,500 delivery sites. So far, roughly 70% of community health center vaccinations have been for racial and ethnic minorities. Community health centers typically serve at-risk communities, including people living in poverty. A majority of patients 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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This expansion will ensure every community health center in the country can be a part of our vaccination effort.”

Biden has stressed the need for equity in the pandemic response, with members of Black and Latino communities more likely to get sick or die from Covid, while so far getting a disproportionately smaller share of vaccines. No state in the U.S. has vaccinated Black people to match the share of their population in that state, data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker show.

The community centers also “serve patients that are predominantly either uninsured or under-insured,” White House Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said Wednesday at a press briefing.

U.S. vaccinations have steadily climbed as shipments have increased, allowing the Biden administration to expand streams to aim more doses to at-risk communities. Biden has appointed a health equity task force to develop recommendations to narrow the gap. The majority of shots are shipped directly to states, and Biden has said all states will fully open eligibility to adults by April 19.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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