HHS announces $250M in new funding to get COVID-19 vaccines to medically underserved areas

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $250 million in new funding to create a community-based workforce that can help get people in medically underserved areas vaccinated for COVID-19.

The funding, available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is part of a larger strategy from the Biden administration to vaccinate hesitant Americans as demand for shots starts to plateau.

“Increasing public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and boosting uptake remains a critical part of our fight against the virus,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Wednesday. “Today’s funding is critically important for connecting vulnerable and underserved communities with trusted health voices who can help deliver vaccinations and information to keep them safe and protect their loved ones.”

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HRSA will award funding to 10 entities that will engage with multiple organizations such as health centers and community-based organizations. Another funding opportunity will be released in the late future that “will focus on smaller community-based organizations,” according to a release on the funding announcement.

The goal of the funding is to help organizations hire “community outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists and others to conduct on-the-ground outreach to educate and assist individuals in getting the information they need about vaccination, help make vaccine appointments and assist with transportation and other needs to get to individuals to each of their vaccination appointments,” the HHS said.

The funding announcement comes a day after President Joe Biden made a goal of having 70% of all U.S. adults get their first shot by the Fourth of July. Biden said during a speech that his administration is working with pharmacies to provide walk-in hours for the vaccine and shipping new doses to rural areas where rates have slowed.