PROVIDENCE, RI – Several Rhode Island community health organizations are getting a boost from a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program meant to increase vaccination rates for COVID-19 in underserved populations. In an effort to combat a winter surge of illness, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that eight Rhode Island community health centers are set to receive $2,086,664 in federal funding to increase access to vaccines and improve outreach to vulnerable communities. This funding will help get more shots into arms and help lower barriers to care for Rhode Islanders hardest hit by COVID-19. 

The funding for these community health centers comes from a new $350 million initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), that delivers support to community-based organizations in their efforts to increase vaccination rates, with a specific focus on underserved populations. This initiative also encourages health centers to support mobile, drive-up, walk-up, or community-based vaccination events. Furthermore, this HRSA funding will help support health centers implementing extended hours and new off-site vaccination locations.

“It is important that we continue to boost vaccine delivery and increase access while giving folks more chances to protect themselves against COVID-19. This injection of federal funding will help Rhode Island’s community health centers deliver more vaccinations to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Jack Reed.

“Rhode Island has long led the way in vaccinations and we want to keep building on that progress in the New Year,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “We are pleased to deliver funding to get more shots in arms through local community health centers, which have done extraordinary work throughout the pandemic to keep Rhode Islanders healthy.”

“As we enter this new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critically important to make sure that our most vulnerable populations are able to access up-to-date vaccines,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “I look forward to this federal funding being distributed to community health centers across our state, so that all Rhode Islanders can stay safe and healthy this winter.”

“Community health centers are a key resource for Rhode Island’s underserved communities and this funding will help ensure that all of our neighbors have access to and knowledge about COVID-19 booster vaccines,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “As we contend with an increase in winter illnesses – including the flu, RSV, and COVID-19 – it’s vital that every Rhode Islander has the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones.”.

Community health centers care for approximately 30 million Americans nationwide. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, health centers deliver primary health care to a significant portion of the nation’s underserved individuals and families; including one in three people living in poverty and one in five rural residents.

The community health centers in Rhode Island set to receive federal funds include:

  • Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Inc. (Pawtucket): $229,180
  • Comprehensive Community Action, Inc. (Cranston): $205,879
  • East Bay Community Action Program (Newport): $137,299
  • Northwest Community Health Center (Pascoag): $195,313
  • Providence Community Health Centers, Inc. (Providence): $576,832
  • Thundermist Health Center (Woonsocket): $517,522
  • Tri-County Community Action Agency (Johnston): $112,513
  • Wood River Health Services, Inc. (Hope Valley): $112,126

In 2021, Rhode Island’s eight HRSA-funded health centers served more than 180,000 Rhode Islanders. These health centers received nearly $8 million in federal support to help fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic.