By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Starting next week, Federally Qualified Health Centers, referred to often as community health centers, will start receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are more than 1,300 community health centers in the United States that serve almost 30 million people, two-thirds of whom live at or below the federal poverty level and 60% of whom are racial and/or ethnic minorities. As early as Feb. 15, at least one center in each state will start receiving the vaccine, with locations expanding soon. The goal of the initial phase is to provide at least 1 million doses (500,000 of the first dose, 500,000 of the second dose) to 250 community centers.

“Alongside other efforts like mobile health units and community vaccination centers, this announcement is another tool we are providing to state and local leaders in their work to reach underserved and hardest-hit populations,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Feb. 9 during a briefing with reporters.

In a separate briefing, also on Feb. 9, the White House COVID-19 Response Team reported the Biden administration has increased weekly vaccine doses going to states, tribes, and territories to 11 million, up from 8.6 million per week when the administration began on Jan. 20.

“I know Americans are eager to get vaccinated, and we’re working with manufacturers to increase the supply of vaccines as quickly as possible,” White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients said. “As supply ramps up, we’re also creating new convenient locations for vaccinations. These include standing up community vaccination centers, deploying mobile vaccine units, and launching new programs with pharmacies.”

Certainly, the vaccination journey has been bumpy so far. As healthcare associations urge Americans to receive the shots, reports are emerging across the country about how hard it has been to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. About a month into the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, one surgery center nurse leader still was struggling to secure shots for her staff. The hurdles included multiple phone calls, dead-end leads, and long waits for an unsure outcome. Read more about that in the March issue of Same-Day Surgery.

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