Congressman asked Biden administration to include local clinics in initial 250 sites
Congressman Brian Higgins announced federally qualified health centers (FQHC) in Western New York will be included among the 250 clinics nationwide first to receive a direct allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified Higgins’ office that Jericho Road Ministries and Neighborhood Health Center of WNY have been selected to be in the initial cohort of 250 health centers directly receiving vaccines through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) vaccination program.
“Our federally qualified health centers already know how to get this done – communicating the importance of the vaccine, reaching out to the community, delivering quality care,” Higgins said. “This represents a major step forward in COVID vaccine distribution in Buffalo and Western New York.”
On Feb. 9, the White House announced it was going to choose a select number of FQHCs to receive vaccine supplies and assist with vaccinations. Higgins subsequently wrote to the Biden administration requesting Western New York health centers be included in the first batch of designated sites.
Higgins 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.”
The administration has indicated it plans to expand the vaccination program to more of the 1,400 FQHCs nationwide as the vaccine supply increases. Higgins will be pushing for the Community Health Center of Buffalo, which also operates a clinic in the City of Niagara Falls, to be added as a partner.
Health centers will be required to meet the criteria set forth by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Once they meet those standards, clinics will be able to place an order for vaccines in the next two weeks.
Veterans Administration facilities, including the Buffalo VA Hospital, receive a direct allocation of vaccines from the federal government. On Tuesday, the Biden administration also announced plans to increase vaccine does to states to 13.6 million weekly and increase the vaccines sent to pharmacies to 2 million per week.