DENVER — A community health center with locations across Colorado has been approved for a new federal program.
"It was just a tremendous honor. I think it's a reflection of our commitment to our communities," said Ben Wiederholt, CEO of STRIDE Community Health Center.
STRIDE will be participating in the Biden administration's pilot of the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. The program allows the federal government to allocate COVID-19 vaccine shipments directly to health centers, separate from the state's own allocations.
The state will still get its weekly share of doses and those will be distributed to other health care providers.
The federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds community health centers across the country to provide health care for the underinsured or uninsured. STRIDE operates at least 20 locations across Colorado.
The Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program is part of President Biden's plan to ramp up shipments to underserved communities. SALUD and Denver Health were also selected to participate in the program's pilot.
"The outcome, we're going to provide more vaccines to more people in most need," Wiederholt said.
Wiederholt said they were expecting to receive the federal vaccine shipment sometime next week, but couldn't say for certain. He also wasn't sure how the federal program would impact their usual allocation from the state.
"A lot of this is still emerging and being sorted through," he said.
On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis and a bipartisan group of governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking the federal government to be more specific on where vaccines are being sent so governors can make better decisions about where to focus vaccine efforts in their respective states.