White House to Ship Vaccines Directly to Low-Income Clinics, but Operators Say They Need More Than Extra Doses
As part of its push to ensure equitable vaccine access, the White House next week will begin shipping COVID-19 vaccines directly to community health centers, the federally funded clinics that serve roughly 30 million uninsured and low-income patients. But these clinics could still face hurdles to getting more shots in arms.
And in states where these clinics are already serving as vaccination sites, health center leaders say they’re struggling with logistical challenges. For example, in a recent federal survey of 822 health centers that gauged challenges in deploying COVID-19 vaccines, about 41 percent cited staffing to administer doses as an issue, while 19 percent reported financial reimbursement for the costs of vaccinating people and 13 percent said vaccine confidence was a problem. About 62 percent said vaccine supply was an issue.
“There’s no fiscal help, so we’re pulling staff that normally would be seeing patients or working on our clinical team to do all of this vaccine work,” said Tyler Henderson, primary care director at Henry J. Austin Health Center in New Jersey. “We’re happy to do it because it’s what we’re here for, but it is a burden that I think might be overlooked.”