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FEMA Supports Vaccine Distribution: COVID-19 Response Update

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Release Date:
February 12, 2021

WASHINGTON -- FEMA is seeking bids to contract medical personnel to help staff both federally supported and community vaccination centers around the country. The contracts will be awarded through the federal acquisition process and are expected to be completed by mid-March. Local and community-based hospitals, state-managed centers as well as federally supported and federally managed centers will receive staff from these contracts exclusively for vaccine support.

FEMA has now provided states, tribes, territories and Washington, D.C., more than $3.22 billion for expenses related to COVID-19 vaccination at 100% federal cost share. As the number of states with obligations increases, we will work alongside other federal agencies to provide federal support for critical staffing, supplies and other shortfalls that can help get more people vaccinated. These funds cover critical supplies, staffing, training and transportation needs that support increased vaccination efforts. FEMA has deployed 1,196 staff across the nation to support vaccination centers with federal personnel and technical assistance.

The CDC and FEMA continue working with state, local, tribal and territorial governments on the critical need to identify vaccine center locations that ensure vulnerable and under-served populations have access to vaccines. FEMA has civil rights advisors and disability integration specialists in each of FEMAs 10 regions to advise state, local, tribal and territorial governments and other partners. Additional disability integration advisors and civil rights advisors are deploying to support these efforts.

The sites FEMA is piloting in locations such as California, Texas and New York were selected based on data analysis, including the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index and other Census data as well as input from our state and local partners. Vaccines for these centers are provided to the states above and beyond the regular allocations. The additional vaccines are made possible through increases in production and availability. We are working to do the most good, for the most vulnerable populations, with no impact to the current allocations of vaccines to the states.

FEMA established a Civil Rights Advisory Group to proactively consider and promptly resolve civil rights concerns and help ensure equity in the allocation of scarce resources including future vaccine allocation. This group evaluates policies, practices, strategies and plans to ensure equity is at the forefront of all FEMA vaccination efforts across the country.

A Civil Rights Checklist was developed by FEMA to assist state, tribal and territorial partners in understanding and fulfilling their obligations to provide access to vaccine-related programs, activities and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.

FEMA Disability Integration specialists and advisors are deployed to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are integrated in all facets of vaccine center operation. The agency is also analyzing community demographics, and coordinating translation and interpretation services.

Federal Funding to Accelerate Vaccine Efforts

Providing funding to states, tribes and territories is an Administration priority. After a request is submitted, reviewed and validated, FEMA can expedite reimbursement for eligible emergency work projects to ensure resources are available to support vaccine distribution and administration.

The costs of purchasing the vaccine and support kits are not covered by these obligations and do not duplicate any HHS funding. COVID-19 Vaccines and support kits are provided to state, tribal and territorial governments at no cost by the federal government.

By law, FEMA funding cannot duplicate costs covered by other federal funding programs or initiatives. FEMA works closely with other federal agencies to provide information about the eligible use of various COVID-19 funding resources. As part of the FEMA Public Assistance program application process, applicants must certify that assistance is not being duplicated. 

FEMA and Other Federal Agencies Are Supporting Vaccination Centers

FEMA published a Community Vaccination Centers Playbook that establishes guidance for providing federal support to state, tribal and territorial Community Vaccination Centers. Information includes interagency coordination, resource support, facility setup and other requirements.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is supporting future planning for Community Vaccination Centers using their subject matter experts, alongside FEMA and state assessments teams, to assess potential new site locations and provide contract capability for establishment. USACE is also coordinating with FEMA and the CDC to design walk-up, drive-through, and mobile vaccination centers. Vaccination center size and location are decided by state, local, tribal and territorial governments.

The U.S. National Guard Bureau is providing 1,201 vaccinators to 385 vaccination centers in 43 states and territories. Additionally, 351 interagency vaccinators have deployed to Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III approved 1,110 active duty troops to support five vaccination centers. FEMA will be partnering with the Department of Defense for additional resources at vaccination centers throughout the country.

Vaccine Guidance

FEMA is also supporting the CDC and Ad Council as they promote the new “Mask Up” public service announcement campaign. This partnership with Warner Bros. features famous films characters reimagined wearing face masks are designed to encourage and normalize the consistent use of masks.

The CDC has released updated guidance on how people can make sure their mask works the best it can, such as wearing a cloth mask over a medical mask. The CDC worked with the Ad Council to produce public service announcements to encourage and normalize the consistent use of masks

Additionally, the CDC Vaccine Task Force is rolling out vaccine confidence consultations for interested jurisdictions. To request this service, interested jurisdictions can send an email to CDC also has online tips for building vaccine confidence, and a Strategy to Reinforce Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine resource.

The vaccine is not a perfect fix. Everyone should continue to practice other CDC-recommended precautions, like wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures until public health officials say otherwise.