Vaccines against COVID-19 will be distributed to community health centers across the United States in the coming weeks, the White House said Tuesday.
Washington has identified 250 community health centers that reach underserved populations to distribute the vaccines directly from the federal government.
Until now, vaccines had been given to state governments first.
“There are more than 1,300 Community Health Centers serving almost 30 million people across the country. Two-thirds of the population that these centers serve are living at or below the federal poverty line and 60% are racial and/or ethnic minorities,” the White House statement said.
More doses promised
The White House also said Tuesday that it would increase the number of doses being sent to states weekly.
Forty-three million doses of the vaccine have been administered, with just over 3% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The number of available doses is expected to increase as a third vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is expected to receive approval for emergency use sometime this month.
Currently, both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses, are being distributed across the United States.
U.S. is world leader in confirmed cases
Around the globe, there are more than 106.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2.3 million deaths due to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 27.1 million, and deaths, with nearly 465,000.
Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky warned Tuesday that vaccines against COVID-19 may need to be administered every year, just as the flu shot is.
"Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate," Gorsky told CNBC.
As vaccination rates rise slowly across the country, health experts are still warning Americans to practice social distancing and masking to avoid further spread of the disease.
We are all tired of #COVID19, but the pandemic is not over yet. We can slow its spread. #WearAMask, stay at least 6 feet from others, avoid crowds & poorly ventilated spaces, wash your hands often, & get vaccinated when it’s available to you. Learn more: https://t.co/qKkt9oEm7M. pic.twitter.com/iWwliR6sjZ— CDC (@CDCgov) February 8, 2021