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Community Health Centers Help Mark National Milestone in Vaccinations; 61% of Vaccine Have Gone to Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Contact: Amy Simmons Farber 202 309 0338

The U.S. has reached a “landmark day” in the COVID-19 pandemic as 60 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, cases continue to decrease, along with hospital admissions and deaths, according to Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and part of the White House COVID-19 Response Team. At a White House Briefing yesterday, COVID-19 response team officials marked progress in the national effort to vaccinate populations against COVID-19.  Dr. Marcella Nuñez Smith, MD, Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, singled out the work of Community Health Centers in these efforts and noted that “approximately 60 percent of shots have been administered to people of color.  And since our Community Health Center program started, about 70 percent of shots administered through those centers have gone to people of color as well.”

Community Health Centers, which serve 30 million people, have been central to ensuring equity and access in the COVID-19 response and vaccination program. They have administered more than 10 million vaccine doses and have increased the number of vaccines they initiate each week by almost five-fold from January 8 to May 7.  As they begin the last mile of the vaccination campaign to end the pandemic, their efforts now focus on developing successful models to bring the shots and primary care services to populations in need, whether it is agricultural workers in the farm fields or urban neighborhoods across America.  They are hosting hundreds of pop-up clinic events and sending mobile vans out in care teams to factories, shopping center parking lots or even sports events.

“This is where the real work of health centers begins,” said Ron Yee, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).  “Health centers are going to where the people are to treat and vaccinate their patients.  As trusted voices in public health, they are helping to build confidence in the COVID vaccine with direct community care and other important services, such as diabetes and blood pressure checks, mental health services.  It is not just about shots in the arm, they are also filling the gaps in care for hard-to-reach populations over the long term.”

Over 90 percent of health center patients live in poverty and over half (63 percent) are racial or ethnic minorities, populations which have been disproportionately affected by COVID with higher rates of death and hospitalizations.

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