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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Health centers across Oklahoma will receive just shy of $64 million in COVID-19 response funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The American Rescue Plan, a $21.6 billion initiative that’s part of President Joe Biden’s massive initiative to fund the battle against COVID-19 throughout the nation, will allocate $63,830,000 to 21 community health centers in Oklahoma, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services news release.

The funds are provided to support COVID-19 vaccination and services for vulnerable populations, which includes the following:

  • Expanding vaccination efforts;
  • Testing;
  • Treating vulnerable populations;
  • Delivering needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19.
Doctor in protective gloves & workwear holding Testing Kit for the coronavirus test
Photo: Getty

The funds are also to be used to expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, which includes the following:

  • Modifying and improving physical infrastructure;
  • Adding mobile units.

This investment is expected to increase access to vaccinations in areas hit hard by the pandemic, and boost confidence in the vaccine by “empowering local, trusted health professionals in their efforts to expand vaccinations,” the news release states.

“Every American should have the security of knowing they have access to quality, affordable health care, especially as we face a pandemic that has exposed the disparities facing rural, minority, and lower-income communities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden Administration is committed to getting help to those who need it most, and the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 will benefit from these critical investments.”

A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Health centers funded by Health Resources and Services Administration are community-based and patient-directed and deliver “affordable, accessible, quality and cost-effective” primary health care to communities and vulnerable populations that are medically underserved. Such communities include high-need urban, rural and frontier communities, according to the news release.

Health centers serve one in five rural community residents and one in 11 people nationwide. Over 91 percent of health center patients live at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63 percent are racial or ethnic minorities.

Go to www.bphc.hrsa.gov/program-opportunities/american-rescue-plan/awards for detailed information on how American Rescue Plan funds are being distributed to health centers, including an interactive map of which health centers will receive funding.

Visit www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/health-center-program for information on ensuring equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

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