On May 4, the Biden administration announced a series of changes to U.S. vaccine distribution strategy, which included an adjusted distribution process, and new funding for community-based vaccinations. The changes will have an impact on the county strategy for vaccine distribution, and coincides with President Biden’s new goal to have 70 percent of adults with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4.
In response to declining rates of administered doses in some states relative to doses allocated, officials from the Biden administration announced that it would be redistributing unused COVID-19 vaccine doses to states with a greater demand. Previously the federal government allocated weekly shares of vaccine doses to states on a proportional bases, and states could carry over unordered doses from its share to the following week. This shift still enables a proportional distribution among states, but states will no longer be able to roll over its unordered doses. Whatever doses states do not order will be move into a federal bank, where other states could order unclaimed doses up to 50 percent above its weekly allocation.
The change in allocation reflects a shift in focus by the Administration and local leaders from mass vaccination to a more targeted strategy, that prioritizes accessibility and leverages community-based settings. To support this approach, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced two new funding programs aimed about bolstering community based COVID-19 mitigation efforts and local vaccination sites.
HHS announced the availability of about $1 billion to improve COVID-19 response efforts and increase vaccinations in rural communities. This funding includes:
- $460 million to more than 4,600 rural health clinics to expand testing and increase efforts to prevent the spread of the virus
- $398 million to existing grantees of the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program to support 1,730 small rural hospitals
- $100 million available in grants to Rural Health Clinics to equitably support underserved rural communities
HHS also unveiled about $250 million to develop and support a community-based workforce who will work to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and remove barriers to vaccination among vulnerable populations. This funding will enable community organizations to hire, train, and support workers who will lead on-the-ground efforts to help residents get information and services they need to regarding vaccinations.
Counties, which operate and support over 1,900 local public health departments, nearly 1,000 public hospitals and critical access clinics, more than 800 long-term care facilities, as well as supporting over 1,300 community health centers, have been leading frontline efforts of the country’s vaccination program. NACo applauds the additional funding that will help counties continue to provide safe and equitable care to its residents.
- NACo’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Toolkit
- NACo Analysis of the American Rescue Plan Act
- CDC, HHS Announce Multiple Grant Programs to Improve Vaccine and Health Equity