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COVID-19 vaccine being sent directly to community health centers

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 19:23:26-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Community Health Centers could soon receive shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine directly from the federal government.

The Biden administration says it’s part of their effort to reach those hit hardest by the virus.

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On February 15, the White House will begin shipping doses of the vaccine to 250 community health centers across the county and the remaining 1,300 in subsequent weeks.

In Utah, there are 13 organizations and over 50 locations. Dexter Pearce, executive director for Community Health Centers, Inc. says they have not received confirmation that their particular clinics are part of this first shipment.

“Our preliminary numbers are showing that we’re not where we need to be yet in terms of percent of population served.” said Caroline Moreno of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

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Moreno's job is to ensure communities hit hardest by the virus get access to the vaccine.

“For many of our populations, there are major trust issues that are very valid,” said Moreno.

Moreno applauds the move by the Biden administration and believes it will enhance what the county is already doing - forming partnerships with community advocates to put on vaccination clinics.

Last Saturday, the county teamed up with Mana Academy Charter School, Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition, and the National Tongan American Society and held a vaccination clinic for Pacific Islanders.

“To be able to get our seniors 70 years and older again to this line and to get the vaccine really means a lot for our communities considering how and what we’ve been going through,” said Anapesi Kaili, director and principal of Mana Academy Charter School.

Salt Lake County is offering $300,000 grants to health advocates within those underserved communities. These funds can be used to organize vaccination clinics, and town halls to educate people about the vaccine.