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HHS: $143.5 Million to Address Barriers to COVID-19 Vaccination

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced $143.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expand community-based efforts to conduct tailored local outreach about vaccines, build vaccine confidence and address barriers to vaccination in their communities.

“Today’s investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued efforts to leverage trusted local messengers and support community-based efforts to vaccinate more Americans against COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We have seen great progress in vaccination rates in recent months, but we know our work isn’t done in addressing misinformation and ensuring equitable access in underserved communities.”

The funding announced supports two programs in which award recipients will develop regional and local partnerships to reach unvaccinated individuals, including pregnant women and people from underserved and high-risk communities, to help bolster COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The first program is a new $66.5 million funding opportunity to support community-based organizations that will provide information and education on COVID-19 vaccines to the medically vulnerable or underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups with low vaccination rates. The second program consists of $77 million to award nine additional community-based organizations under the previously announced funding opportunity to mobilize community outreach workers to educate and assist individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

These awards build on previous HRSA funding for community-based organizations to hire and mobilize community outreach workers to increase vaccine access for the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities. HRSA awarded $125 million in June 2021 to support 14 nonprofit private or public organizations to reach underserved communities in all 50 states. Then in July 2021, HRSA provided even more localized support by awarding another $121 million to 127 local community-based organizations.

“This funding reflects HRSA’s core mission of providing equitable health care to people who are geographically isolated and economically or medically vulnerable,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa. “These additional investments in community-based funding will help reduce disparities and reach people in underserved communities who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”