Community Health Centers Celebrate One Year of Immunizing the Underserved

Bethsda, Maryland, February 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — This week, the community health center’s COVID-19 vaccination program marks an important milestone in protecting underserved populations from a virus that has claimed more than 900,000 lives and infected millions. . From the start, equity has been the North Star of the Biden administration’s national immunization strategy, and community health centers have played a central role in protecting populations that suffered disproportionately from high rates of higher infections due to COVID-19. They include people in essential jobs that put them at higher risk, agricultural and migrant workers, residents of social housing, the elderly and homeless, and low-income families who may not have access to essential health services, live in rural areas, or are racial and ethnic minorities. Health centers provided 19.2 million COVID-19 vaccines, with more than two out of three vaccines at a health center given to people of color.

Despite floods of variants, the program is a documented success. There are fewer COVID-19 deaths and infections in parts of the country where there is a health center, according to to the findings of the NACHC and the Morehouse School of Medicine National COVID-19 Resilience Network (NCRN). The joint analysis compared the COVID infection and death rate in areas with a health center and areas without and found 200 fewer cases of infection and 9 fewer deaths per 100,000 people. The results attest to the efforts of health centers on the ground, bringing vaccines to where people are with mobile vaccination sites, testing and building confidence in vaccines through culturally and linguistically appropriate efforts to fight against misinformation. Another key study conducted by Boston University School of Public Health and published in JAMA found that, from July 2021health centers administered 61.4% of their vaccines to people of color, compared to 40% of vaccines administered to racial and ethnic groups in the general population.

The community health center immunization program is a landmark effort to target underserved populations in the event of a pandemic, and health centers are uniquely suited to the task. They serve 14.5 million people living in poverty, 2.9 million people aged 65 and over, 19 million people from minorities and 1.5 million homeless people.

“We are proud that the health centers have risen to the challenge of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Ron Yee, MD, NACHC Chief Medical Officer. “They saved lives and provided a safe and reliable place for families to get vaccinated and learn the facts. Health centers were out in force, knocking on doors and administering vaccines in agricultural fields, in mobile units, laundromats, schools, beyond the walls of the centers themselves, into the places where people gather, live and work.This unprecedented effort demonstrates that a localized approach is effective against a global public health crisis.

The more than two-year battle on the front lines of the pandemic has taken its toll on healthcare workers, and healthcare centers are no exception. Chronic labor shortages are worsening due to burnout, trauma, COVID infections and recruitment challenges. Nearly half – 44% of health centers report not having adequate staff to administer vaccines January 2022.

About the National Association of Community Health Centers

Founded in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is the national voice of America’s health centers and an advocate for access to health care for the medically underserved and uninsured.

SOURCE National Association of Community Health Centers

Maria J. Book