Biden Administration Joins Governor Walz’s Effort to Support Federally Qualified Community Health Centers in Promoting Equitable Vaccine Distribution

ST. PAUL, MN (STL.News) Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today applauded the upcoming launch of President Biden’s Community Health Centers Vaccination Program , which will support the Walz-Flanagan Administration’s existing efforts to empower Minnesota’s Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) by shipping additional vaccine directly to these centers.  The new program will be phased in nationwide in the coming weeks, with specific states and vaccine amounts yet to be determined.

“We believe that fighting the challenges presented by COVID-19 head-on means working alongside the same community-based public health organizations many Minnesotans know and rely on for their family’s health care and accurate information about the virus,” said Governor Tim Walz.

“My administration has already begun distributing vaccine doses to Minnesota’s Federally Qualified Community Health Centers, and we’re paying specific attention to those serving our communities of color, American Indians, uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans, and our low-income communities,” continued Governor Walz.  “This new federal program will bolster our ongoing efforts to ensure every Minnesotan has fair, equitable access to the vaccine.”

To help ensure equitable dosage distribution to communities that need it most, the state has been working strategically with the state’s 17 FQHCs, which serve people who are low-income and uninsured Minnesotans, as well as Minnesota’s Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color.  The state has been and is currently supplying FQHCs weekly with the full amount of doses they are requesting to vaccinate their existing patient populations, starting with 65+ patients.  In order to allow FQHCs to meet their patients’ needs, they are exempt from the Administration’s goal for providers to administer 90% of vaccine doses within 72 hours, and are only subject to the goal of administering 100% of vaccine doses within one week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequities for low-income people, people who are uninsured, and people of color and Native people.  Our support of Minnesota’s FQHCs is aimed at addressing that disproportionate impact by leaning on the expertise and relationships of these clinics to best serve their patients,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.  “Empowering community health centers and continuing to provide them with vaccine is a critical part of our work to help Minnesotans who have been hit hardest during this pandemic have access to the vaccine in their communities.  We welcome the Biden Administration’s partnership to further this work.”

The Biden administration’s announcement comes as the U.S. Center for Disease Control improved Minnesota’s national ranking in percentage of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to 10th and as the state reports that its total COVID-19 positivity rate has fallen to 4%.