Direct Relief announced today that it will provide $10 million in grants to community health centers to cover ancillary costs related to their administration of Covid-19 vaccines nationwide.
The announcement follows the launch of The Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By allocating COVID-19 vaccines to community health centers, the program aims to help ensure those disproportionately affected by the virus receive equitable access to the vaccine.
More than 29 million of the country’s most vulnerable residents rely on community health centers for health care. Health centers serve 1 in 11 U.S. residents, including 1 in 3 individuals living in poverty, 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries, 1 in 5 rural Americans, and 1 in 9 children. Nationally, 63 percent of health center patients are members of ethnic and racial minority groups.
Direct Relief works extensively with the country’s community health centers as their largest philanthropic supporter, mobilizing private charitable resources to aid their efforts for populations and in areas that are medically underserved.
The initial $10 million in funding, which will increase if Direct Relief receives additional support, aims to bolster health centers and help cover unexpected costs as they mobilize vaccination operations. Direct Relief has already begun receiving unsolicited requests from health centers for assistance covering new costs related to mass vaccination efforts while maintaining essential primary care services.
“Direct Relief’s role in providing charitable support to community health centers nationwide has provided a keen awareness of how hard COVID-19 has slammed the communities in which they work, the people who rely on them, and their own critical operations,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “The recently announced federal plan to include them in vaccination efforts was welcome news, and also why Direct Relief will do everything it can to help ensure that the effort is successful by mobilizing and private charitable support, which is obviously needed by the groups taking on this role.”
An initial 225 health centers were invited to participate in The Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. Each is eligible to receive funds from Direct Relief.
The $10 million announced today adds to $350 million in charitable assistance provided by Direct Relief to 2,800 health centers and other organizations serving communities across the U.S. hit hardest by the pandemic. That includes $50 million in emergency financial assistance and $300 million in material aid like PPE, medications, and essential supplies such as oxygen concentrators.
Those efforts remain ongoing.