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FEMA's Vaccine and Vaccination Efforts

This is a good summary of ongoing activities.

From a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) news release:

FEMA COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution 


In alignment with President Biden’s plan to respond to COVID-19, FEMA will work with other federal agencies to coordinate with state, tribal and territorial authorities and private sector partners and others to assist, augment and expedite vaccinations in the United States.

Key Messages

  • At the President’s direction, FEMA has increased its support to states, tribes and territories for vaccination centers. FEMA has already obligated more than $3.22 billion to states, tribes and territories, and Washington, D.C. for community vaccination centers. 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.
  • Everyone has a role to play in increasing vaccinations. Support your family, friends and neighbors if they need help getting appointments or getting to a vaccination center.
    • You can help those without access to technology or those with low computer literacy to sign up online.
  • Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of providers are prepared to administer vaccines to people eligible to receive them. The federal government, in partnership with private sector, created the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership to capitalize on the 40,000 pharmacies accessible to a large segment of the population.

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.
  • As of Feb. 11, FEMA has provided more than $3.22 billion to 32 states, the District of Columbia, three tribes and three territories for expenses related to COVID-19 vaccination at 100% federal cost share.
  • These funds cover critical supplies, staffing, training and transportation needs that support increased vaccination efforts.
  • 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.
  • The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 appropriates $2 billion to FEMA to provide financial assistance to households for COVID-19-related funeral expenses at a 100% federal cost.
    • FEMA is finalizing an interim policy and will be hiring contract support through the federal acquisitions process to help administer the program.
  • As of Feb. 11, the Disaster Relief Fund balance is more than $12.4 billion. These funds will support continued response to COVID-19, including expanded vaccination efforts across the country by providing financial assistance to governments and other eligible applicants for vaccination efforts as well as personal protective equipment, alternative care sites and durable medical equipment.

FEMA and Other Federal Agencies Are Supporting Vaccine Centers

  • The sites FEMA is piloting in locations such as California, Texas and New York are 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 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 would receive staff from these contracts exclusively for vaccine support.
  • FEMA has finalized a contract for 30 mobile vaccination units; inspection and delivery of initial production are scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 15.
  • As of Feb. 11, FEMA has deployed 1,196 staff across the nation to support vaccination centers with federal personnel and technical assistance. A National Incident Management Assistance Team has deployed to Albany, New York to support the state’s vaccination program.
  • One FEMA Corps team is supporting the Region 2 regional response coordination center. Additional FEMA Corps teams are at the Kentucky Emergency Operation Center, answering hotline calls to provide Kentucky residents information on vaccination locations and the Commonwealth’s vaccine website.
  • AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) teams are supporting a vaccination center in New Jersey.
  • 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 intent of these designs is the use of existing infrastructure when available.
  • 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 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.

Ensuring Equitable Vaccine Access

  • To address and prevent COVID-19 health inequities and ensure an equitable response to the pandemic, the Biden administration announced a task force.
  • FEMA is committed to ensuring every person who wants a vaccine can get one.
  • FEMA and the CDC are 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 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.   
  • 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.
  • FEMA developed a Civil Rights Checklist 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.

Vaccine Guidance

Additional FEMA Support

  • FEMA, through its National Response Coordination Center and 10 regional offices across the nation, is coordinating with other federal agencies to meet state, tribal and territorial needs as requested. Support includes expedited financial assistance, federal equipment and supplies, and deploying federal personnel to states, tribes, territories and other eligible applicants for vaccination efforts at a 100% cost share.
  • Additionally, FEMA will provide reimbursement to states, local, tribal and territorial governments and the District of Columbia for the use of their National Guard at a 100% cost share until Sept. 30.
  • On Feb. 2, President Biden directed FEMA to retroactively reimburse states for 100% of their costs for eligible emergency protective measures including masks, gloves, emergency feeding actions, sheltering at risk populations and mobilization of the National Guard.
  • President’s directive also directs FEMA to expand the activities eligible for reimbursement for work conducted after Jan. 21, 2021 and until Sept. 30, 2021. Reimbursement applies to eligible costs to support the safe opening and operation of eligible schools, child-care facilities, healthcare facilities, non-congregate shelters, domestic violence shelters, transit systems and other eligible applicants incurred after Jan. 21.  

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please contact Office of External Affairs:

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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