HHS offers clinics $350M to jumpstart COVID-19 vaccinations

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The Health Resources and Services Administration will distribute $350 million to fund COVID-19 vaccination efforts at community health centers, the Health and Human Services Department agency announced Tuesday.

This announcement comes one week after President Joe Biden asked Congress for the third time to make more COVID-19 funding available to prepare for a winter surge, accelerate research for long COVID, develop new vaccines and treatments, and ease the transition of vaccines and therapeutics to the commercial market. Congress failed to provide the money Biden previously requested because of objections from Republican lawmakers.

“These funds will ensure that people who live in underserved communities have access to updated COVID-19 vaccines this winter through community-based vaccination events hosted by healthcare providers and organizations they trust,” HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson said in the news release.

HRSA-funded community health centers and those that received American Rescue Plan funding are eligible for the money. The agency encourages health centers to extend hours and off-site vaccine locations in addition to expanding transportation and translation services.

The national COVID-19 vaccination campaign has sputtered after high demand when shots first became available to the general public last year.

As of Nov. 15, more than 228 million people had gotten their first two shots, and 35.3 million people aged five and over had received bivalent boosters, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. About 80% of the population has received at least one dose, while 11.3% have gotten all of the available shots, including the latest booster. On Nov. 15, about 40,000 received COVID-19 vaccines compared with 1.6 million on the same date in 2021.

Nationally, 280,711 new COVID-19 cases were reported last week and hospitalizations were up 1.7% from the previous seven days, the CDC reported.

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