05.06.21

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds HHS Funding to Support Community-Based Workforce to Address Vaccine Equity

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee today applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement that through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), approximately $250 million will be invested in developing a community-based workforce to serve as trusted messengers to deliver public health information, increase vaccine confidence, and address barriers to vaccination for vulnerable and medically underserved communities.

This program, which mirrors Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s legislation, the COVID Community Care Act, will invest in community-based organizations to educate and distribute vaccine and public health information.

“In order to tackle this virus, we must work to build confidence in vaccines and address the legacy of systemic racism in our public health system,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “I was proud to lead the effort in Congress to invest in trusted messengers at the community level to build confidence in vaccines and COVID-19 prevention efforts.

“I’m glad to see the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Xavier Becerra make this critical investment in supporting medically underserved communities and communities of color who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. This is the result of months of hard work by our Tri-Caucus – the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Native American member Congresswoman Sharice Davids. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Committee  Chair Frank Pallone, Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott and Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro deserve credit as well for their hard work and support in getting this across the finish line. This is an important step, but we must continue our work to dismantle systemic racism in our public health system and ensure that vaccines are equitably distributed.”

The last two COVID relief packages included provisions consistent with Congresswoman Lee and Senator Warren’s legislation, the COVID Community Care Act. The American Rescue Plan (ARP), included the following language based on Rep. Lee and Senator Warren’s legislation: 

  • $7.5 billion for CDC with explicit uses of funds for underserved populations and COVID-19-related activities in our communities, including community vaccination centers, mobile vaccination units, and transportation of individuals to facilitate vaccinations, particularly for underserved populations. 
  • $1 billion in funding for vaccine confidence activities through the CDC. The goal is to increase vaccine confidence, increase education on the vaccine, and improve vaccination rates. 
  • $47.8 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and mitigation activities. Most notably, as envisioned by the COVID Community Care Act, the ARP  includes  partnerships with academic and research laboratories, community-based testing sites and community-based organizations; or mobile health units, particularly in medically underserved areas. The funding can also be used to improve data collection and expand the public workforce.
  • $7.6 billion in funding for community health centers to provide vaccination, testing, tracing, and community outreach and education activities related to COVID–19. 
  • $7.66 billion to expand the public health workforce. This funding can be used to recruit, hire, and train of individuals, including those employed by a nonprofit private or public organization with demonstrated expertise in implementing public health programs and established relationships with such State, territorial, or local public health departments, particularly in medically underserved areas. 
  • More than $6 billion for Native health systems, including the Indian Health Service, part of the largest Federal investment in history for Native programs.  

To apply for HHS’s Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Program Notice of Funding Opportunity, visit Grants.gov. The deadline to apply is May 18, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET.