Higgins Pushes for Western New York Health Centers to Receive a Direct Federal Allocation of the COVID Vaccine
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is pushing for Western New York Federally Qualified Health Centers to receive a direct allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government.
On Tuesday, February 9, the White House announced it will begin to provide a select number of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) with vaccine supplies as soon as next week. In a letter to the Health Resources & Services Administration, Congressman Higgins is pushing for Western New York health centers to be among the first to receive the vaccine.
Higgins writes, “FQHCs are trusted providers in their communities, and leveraging the existing relationships they have with patients who may not otherwise have access to health care and who may be historically mistrustful of our health care system will be key in getting folks in these hard-to-reach communities vaccinated. I therefore strongly urge you to include FQHCs in Erie and Niagara Counties as part of HRSA’s vaccine distribution effort to health centers.”
Western New York is home to several Federally Qualified Health Centers: Community Health Center of Buffalo, Jericho Road and Neighborhood Health Center. Evergreen Health also recently earned FQHC “look-alike” status. Combined the Health Centers operate clinics in Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, Blasdell, Hamburg, Lockport and several locations in the City of Buffalo.
Higgins goes on to say, “In Erie and Niagara Counties, the ZIP codes hardest hit by COVID are those whose residents are majority people of color and are disproportionately low-income. These are precisely the communities Buffalo’s FQHCs are dedicated to serving, and that they are uniquely positioned to reach.”
Nationwide, over 1,300 Federally Qualified Health Centers provide preventative and primary care to approximately 30 million patients in underserved communities, playing a critical role in addressing racial health disparities. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, “Over 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63% are racial/ethnic minorities.”