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White House COVID-19 task force announces health center vaccine program

The briefing addressed community health center vaccine measures and a focus on equity as the U.S. distributes vaccines to respond to fight COVID-19.

The White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, along with COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith announced new updates on operational matters regarding the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

In a statement from the White House Tuesday, the Biden administration announced the launch of a "Federally Qualified Health Center program that will provide more vaccines for Community Health Centers that are reaching our underserved and most vulnerable communities." 

The White House is holding a goal to administer 100 million shots in 100 days, and also wants to ensure vaccines are administered equitably.   

Watch the briefing live here:

Read the full release from the White House below:

"As the U.S. surpasses 26 million COVID-19 infections, President Biden is taking additional steps today to speed up vaccinations across the country. The President announced the launch of the Federally Qualified Health Center program that will provide more vaccines for Community Health Centers that are reaching our underserved and most vulnerable communities. And, the administration will increase the vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories by 5% over last week, for a total of a 28% increase since President Biden came into office three weeks ago.

These new steps will help meet the President’s goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and ensure that vaccines are administered equitably.

The President is taking the following actions today:

Launching First Phase of the Federally Qualified Health Center Program for COVID-19 Vaccination: As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to ensure that the nation’s hardest hit populations are receiving the vaccine, starting the week of February 15, Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) will begin directly receiving vaccine supply. Many people know these as Community Health Centers. Community Health Centers provide primary care services in underserved communities across the country. There are more than 1,300 Community Health Centers serving almost 30 million people across the country. Two-thirds of the population that these centers serve are living at or below the federal poverty line and 60% are racial and/or ethnic minorities. The program will be phased in, with the first centers able to start ordering vaccines as early as the week of February 15. The initial phase will include at least one Community Health Center in each state, expanding to 250 centers in the coming weeks.

This program is part of a broader effort to ensure all communities are being reached in the national push to get people vaccinated. Community Vaccination Centers in underserved areas, the retail pharmacy program, mobile clinics, and efforts to increase vaccine confidence are also key tools to help states and communities vaccinate their most vulnerable populations. More information on this program is available at www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/health-center-program.

Expanding Vaccine Supply: Building on last week’s announcement, the Biden-Harris Administration will increase overall, weekly vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories to 11 million doses nationwide beginning this week. This is a 28% increase since taking office on January 20. The Administration is committing to maintaining this as the minimum supply level for the next three weeks, and we will continue to work with manufacturers in their efforts to ramp up supply."

More on these White House COVID-19 briefings

The briefings, usually set for three times a week, are part of Biden’s attempt to rebuild trust and mobilize Americans to follow health guidance on the coronavirus and to break down public resistance to the vaccine. Tuesday's briefing appears to be a rare exception to update the public on some much-needed information about the pandemic fight.

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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