A new data note describes the Biden Administration’s initiative to allocate COVID-19 vaccine supplies directly to community health centers. It also presents updated information on the number of health center staff members and patients who have received COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The first phase of the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program, which begins the week of February 15th, is expected to include 250 community health centers, or 18 percent of all 1,385 federally-funded community health centers operating across the U.S. in 2019. Health centers that serve a high volume of the most at-risk patients or populations, including people experiencing homelessness, residents of public housing, migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, and patients with limited English proficiency will be among the first to be directly allocated vaccines. The goal in this initial phase is to allocate 1 million doses, which would provide for the full vaccination of half a million community health center patients.

HRSA survey data as reported for the period from January 8th to February 5th, 2021 show that 147,109 staff members initiated and 92,801 completed their COVID-19 vaccine series, accounting for more than one in three (37%) health center staff members. Over that same period 655,098 health center patients received their first dose and 93,624, their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine from any source. Still, challenges remain to deploying the vaccine, with responding centers reporting challenges related to supply (61 percent), staffing to administer the vaccine (40 percent), financial reimbursement for the costs of administering vaccines (18 percent) and vaccine confidence (13 percent). While vaccine hesitancy is an important and high-priority matter of concern, community health centers have extensive experience in immunizing medically underserved and at-risk populations. Their community locations and deep local roots, track record as trusted providers, and the diversity of their staff elevate the importance of community health centers in the Biden administration’s broader health equity initiative.

The data note was produced by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative.
Download the data note.