The Biden administration will begin shipping coronavirus shots to community health centers next week in an effort to reach some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
The program’s launch comes as White House officials are trying to address inequities in the nation’s vaccination push. Initial data shows Black and Hispanic people are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than are white people.
The background: The administration will allocate 1 million doses to community health centers. Roughly 250 sites will receive the vaccine in the initial phase of the program, which will eventually include any of the nation’s 1,400 centers that want to participate.
The White House will first choose community health centers that serve large populations — such as those that serve more than 2,000 patients who are 65 or older — and facilities with a significant number of patients who are agricultural migrant workers, residents of public housing or are experiencing homelessness.
The health center allocation comes as the federal government is increasing the number of vaccine doses sent to states by 5 percent, to 11 million doses per week. White House officials briefed governors on the increase during a call earlier Tuesday.
Why it matters: Health centers reach nearly 30 million patients per year. The facilities typically care for medically underserved populations, and can be central primary care hubs for rural areas.
The CDC released data last week showing stark racial and ethnic disparities in the nation’s vaccination effort, and the Biden administration has pledged improvements. In the first month of immunizations, over 60 percent inoculated were white, compared to the just over 5 percent who were Black and 11.5 percent who were Hispanic.
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