White House Announces $10 Billion Effort to Improve Vaccine Access for Vulnerable Areas
The White House announced plans Thursday to bolster vaccination efforts by an additional $10 billion in order to increase vaccination rates in low-income, rural and minority areas hit hardest by the pandemic.
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan will largely fund the effort, which will invest in expanding access to vaccines for groups that have been underserved during the pandemic. The White House announced that the president has:
- Set up federally-run community vaccination centers in hard-hit areas
- Sent vaccines directly to local pharmacies and community health centers that disproportionately serve vulnerable populations
- Launched hundreds of mobile clinics to give access to rural areas
- Created the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force
Over $6 billion will be allotted and distributed for various health centers throughout the United States. The Health Resources and Services Administration has allocated the funds to over 1,376 health centers nationwide.
The White House added recommendations for how communities can use the funds, including setting up door-to-door outreach by faith-based organizations in rural areas and utilizing nonprofits in high-poverty communities to provide transportation to mass vaccination sites. Funds could also be utilized to extend the hours of bilingual healthcare workers who are servicing some of these communities.
The announcement comes after months of criticism at the inefficiency and inequity of vaccine distribution. Vaccine centers in New York were hit hard with criticism after appointments in low-income neighborhoods were quickly reserved by residents in affluent communities who had better access to computers and were more tech-savvy, according to The New York Times. The system was slammed for being biased towards people who had enough money and knowledge to capitalize on these systems in higher populated areas with larger numbers of appointments.
Federal money aimed at giving access to different types of populations could help close the gap. States have already started putting restrictions in place to ensure that vaccines go to the local residents for whom they were intended, according to CNN.