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Washington to receive $68 million from CDC to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts

The federal government is sending $68 million to Washington state to bolster vaccination programs.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
The federal government is sending $68 million to Washington state to bolster vaccination programs. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

WASHINGTON – Washington state will receive more than $68 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bolster local COVID-19 vaccination programs, part of an effort to get vaccines to the communities hit hardest by the pandemic, according to the CDC.

The money, totaling $68,807,053, is part of $3 billion in funding the agency is distributing across the country to improve equity in vaccine access, made available by the coronavirus relief and economic stimulus bills Congress passed in December and March.

“We are doing everything we can to expand access to vaccinations,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Millions of Americans are getting vaccinated every day, but we need to ensure that we are reaching those in the communities hit hardest by this pandemic.

“This investment will support state and local health departments and community-based organizations as they work on the front lines to increase vaccine access, acceptance and uptake.”

The funds are meant to support the CDC’s existing partnerships with community organizations, according to information the agency shared with The Spokesman-Review.

Idaho is set to receive roughly $20.7 million through the same award program. States will receive the money directly, but the funds come with some strings attached.

Three-quarters of the funds must be used for programs and initiatives that aim to improve vaccine access and reduce vaccine hesitancy among racial and ethnic minority communities, such as training trusted members of a community to go door to door to share information about getting inoculated and help people sign up for vaccination appointments.

At least 60% of the money will support community health centers, local health departments and community-based organizations. The CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services have started several other vaccine access and awareness programs, including other efforts to get resources to the communities that have seen the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will visit a mass vaccination site in Yakima on Tuesday along with Gov. Jay Inslee, according to the White House. Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, also plans to meet with representatives of Yakima Valley farm workers, one of the populations hit hardest by the virus.

More than 167 million vaccine doses had been administered nationwide as of Monday, including more than 4 million in Washington and about 826,000 in Idaho, according to CDC data.

Orion Donovan-Smith's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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