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March 26, 2021

Health Law Weekly

Biden Continues Efforts to Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Access in Underserved Communities

  • March 26, 2021

The Biden administration announced March 25 plans to invest nearly $10 billion in expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines in communities of color, rural areas, low-income populations, and other underserved communities.

The funding, mostly drawn from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan enacted earlier this month, is part of the administration’s efforts to ensure vulnerable populations and underserved communities have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In recent weeks, the administration has started sending vaccines directly to local pharmacies and community health centers that disproportionately serve vulnerable populations, according to a White House fact sheet.

The latest effort includes more than $6 billion for community health centers nationwide to boost COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations. The administration also is allowing community health centers to expand eligibility to the vaccines to frontline essential workers and individuals who are 16 years and older with high-risk medical conditions, the fact sheet said.

Another $3 billion in funding will go to states, territories, and some large cities for new programs to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake, with a particular focus on communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The administration also plans to provide vaccines directly to dialysis clinics. Patients with kidney disease, which disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities, who are on dialysis are more likely to suffer severe outcomes from and require hospitalization for COVID-19, the fact sheet noted.

To further help address disparities in access to COVID-19-related services, the Department of Health and Human Services also will provide $330 million for community health worker services that support prevention and control, and an additional $32 million for training, technical assistance, and evaluation.