White House to ship COVID-19 vaccines directly to community health centers

Community health centers will be receiving coronavirus vaccines directly from the federal government next week, White House officials announced Tuesday.

The goal of the new program is to focus on equitable vaccine distribution, in order to reach traditionally underserved areas, which is where community health centers are located.

“Equity is core to our strategy to put this pandemic behind us, and equity means that we are reaching everyone, particularly those in underserved and rural communities, and those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a press briefing.

How it’ll work: The program will begin incrementally and will ramp up over time as vaccine supply increases, officials said. The administration will initially send doses to at least one health center in every jurisdiction across the country, with 1 million doses divided across 250 clinics as the program phases in over the next few weeks. That means 500,000 first doses and 500,000 second doses.

Focus on equity: Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the White House’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, said the program hasn’t made any selections yet, but is focusing on clinics that primarily treat people who are experiencing homelessness, agricultural and migrant workers, residents of public housing and those with limited English proficiency.