White House targeting some federal health centers as distribution sites
Congressman Brian Higgins is pushing for Western New York Federally Qualified Health Centers to receive a direct allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government.
On Tuesday, the White House announced it will begin to provide a select number of centers with vaccine supplies as soon as next week. In a letter to the health resources and services administration, Higgins pushed for Western New York health centers to be among the first to receive the vaccine.
He wrote, “FQHCs are trusted providers in their communities, and leveraging the existing relationships they have with patients who may not otherwise have access to health care and who may be historically mistrustful of our health care system will be key in getting folks in these hard-to-reach communities vaccinated. I therefore strongly urge you to include FQHCs in Erie and Niagara Counties as part of HRSA’s vaccine distribution effort to health centers.”
Western New York is home to several federally qualified health centers: Community Health Center of Buffalo, Jericho Road and Neighborhood Health Center. Evergreen Health also recently earned FQHC “look-alike” status. Combined, the health centers operate clinics in Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, Blasdell, Hamburg, Lockport and several locations in the City of Buffalo.
Higgins wrote, “In Erie and Niagara Counties, the ZIP codes hardest hit by COVID are those whose residents are majority people of color and are disproportionately low-income. These are precisely the communities Buffalo’s FQHCs are dedicated to serving, and that they are uniquely positioned to reach.”
Nationwide, more than 1,300 federally qualified health centers provide preventative and primary care to approximately 30 million patients in underserved communities, “playing a critical role in addressing racial health disparities,” a press release noted. “According to the health resources and services administration, “Over 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63% are racial/ethnic minorities.”