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New Program Will Use “Vaccine Ambassadors” to Improve Vaccine Education and Access Among Vulnerable Populations

November 10, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), has awarded $2.3 million to 15 health centers in 12 states to support the Community Vaccine Ambassador Project.

The Vaccine Ambassador Project will focus on increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates among three specific populations: people experiencing homelessness; individuals with substance use disorders; and individuals engaged in sex work. All three groups are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection, but have experienced barriers to accessing health care. Many individuals within those groups also may have low levels of trust in the medical system due to previous experiences of trauma or stigma. The Vaccine Ambassador Project will use trusted ambassadors — such as outreach workers, peer navigators, and people with lived experience of homelessness or substance use – to provide vaccination education and information to these individuals.

The 15 recipient programs are:

• Affinia Healthcare (St. Louis, MO)
• Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless (Oakland, CA)
• Alluvion Health (Great Falls, MT)
• Camillus Health Concern, Inc. (Miami, FL)
• Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (Denver, CO)
• Columbus Neighborhood Health Center, dba PrimaryOne Health (Columbus, OH)
• CrescentCare (New Orleans, LA)
• Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (Lawrence, MA)
• JWCH Institute Inc. (Los Angeles, CA)
• OPTIMUS Health Care (Bridgeport, CT)
• Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners (Clearwater, FL)
• Public Health Management Corporation (Philadelphia, PA)
• Union Community Health Center, Inc. (Bronx, NY)
• The Wright Center for Community Health (Scranton, PA)
• Yakima Neighborhood Health Services (Yakima, WA)

“We appreciate the commitment of the CDC and NACHC, as well as all of the award recipients, to support vulnerable populations with vaccinations,” said Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. “We hope our combined efforts to improve access and education will lead to increased vaccination rates and better health outcomes for people who are so often overlooked.”

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About the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety, and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate act, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

About the National Health Care for the Homeless Council
The National Health Care for the Homeless Council supports the 300 Health Care for the Homeless and 115 medical respite programs that serve more than one million patients experiencing homelessness each year. Grounded in human rights and social justice, the NHCHC mission is to build an equitable, high-quality health care system through training, research, and advocacy in the movement to end homelessness.

About the National Association of Community Health Centers
The National Association of Community Health Centers was founded in 1971 to promote the provision of high quality, comprehensive, and affordable health care that is coordinated, culturally and linguistically competent, and community-directed for all medically underserved populations.

 

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