Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today that clinics in Portland, Oregon City, Grants Pass, Eugene, Tillamook, Prineville and Medford will be invited to join the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program over the next six weeks. The nine clinics join Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, the Neighborhood Health Center in Portland, Multnomah, and Lane counties in the program.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched this vaccine program to directly allocate COVID-19 vaccine to HRSA-supported health centers to ensure underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated.
“Getting as many Oregonians vaccinated as soon as possible saves lives and gets our state and country that much closer to emerging from this public health and economic crisis,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “A painful lesson after one year of battling coronavirus is how the virus lands especially hard on low-income Oregonians in communities of color, tribal communities and rural communities. Today’s news is a real shot in the arm to help all those communities.”
“We know that getting as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible is key to save lives and end this pandemic,” said Merkley. “We need to do everything we can to make that happen, including ensuring that our rural, tribal, and low-income communities—who have faced unique challenges and in many ways felt the brunt of the coronavirus crisis—aren’t left out. I’m grateful that these health centers are joining this powerful vaccine program, and will continue to work to bring vaccines to underserved Oregonians in every corner of our state.”
HRSA-funded health centers are community-based and patient-centered organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care. Nationwide, nearly 1,400 centers operate about 13,000 sites, providing primary and preventive care on a sliding fee scale to nearly 30 million patients each year. More than 91 percent of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and nearly 63 percent are racial/ethnic minorities. Health centers across the nation are playing vital roles in supporting local community responses to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Prior to today, 250 health centers were invited to this program, and include those that serve a large volume of the following: disproportionately affected populations: individuals experiencing homelessness, public housing residents, migrant/seasonal agricultural workers, or patients with limited English proficiency.
Today, an additional 700 health centers were invited to participate in the next phase of the program and include those that serve high proportions of patients living with low income and from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, provide services to rural/frontier populations, operate Tribal/Urban Indian Health Programs, and/or use mobile vans to deliver services.
- A list of the health centers participating in or invited to join the program is here.
- Read the full press release is here.