Biden investing $250 million for COVID-19 safety, vaccination in underserved population

March 9, 2021
Keith A. Reynolds

The funds will go toward health literacy grants for racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other vulnerable populations.

The Biden administration is spending more money in an effort to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination in underserved communities.

According to a news release, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will offer $250 million in funding as health literacy grants to localities, which will partner with community-based organizations, to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other vulnerable populations.

The initiative, Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19, is expected fund about 30 projects in urban communities and 43 in rural communities for two years. Cities, counties, parishes, and other subdivisions may apply to receive the funding, the release says.

Communities that receive the funds are expected to develop a disparity impact statement based on local data identifying racial and ethnic minority populations at higher risk for health disparities, low health literacy, and a lack of engagement or reach through existing public health messages and approaches, according to the release.

Recipients will then create and implement a health literacy plan to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services in underserved communities, the release says.

"Information is power, especially the ability to understand and use information to support better health, " Acting Assistant Secretary for Health RADM Felicia Collins, MD, says in the release. “Whether it helps us understand where to get tested or the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine, information is a crucial part of keeping families and communities safe. Nowhere is this more important than in communities hit hardest by the pandemic, especially racial and ethnic minority communities and other vulnerable populations."