BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Jericho Road Community Health Center and Neighborhood Health Center of Western New York will receive the COVID-19 vaccine directly from the federal government.
The centers are two of the 250 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in the country to receive the the first allotment directly from the federal government.”
Jericho Road Founder and CEO Dr. Myron Glick said the center will vaccinate its eligible patients first, and then the surrounding communities.
"We know how to give shots and these are our patients, and so it's really important that family doctors get the vaccine in their hands because I believe that our patients trust us the most," Glick said.
He said many of his patients come from communities disproportionately effected by COVID-19, including Black, Latino, and refugee communities.
“If you want to see vaccine equity across our state and across our country, you need to get the vaccine in the hands of the doctors that care for these vulnerable populations,” Glick said.
Neighborhood Health Center of WNY CEO Joanne Haefner said its priority is vaccinating approximately 6,000 of its patients already eligible. She said many come from populations vulnerable to COVID-19.
“The federal government has acknowledged that, and said that sending a portion of vaccines to directly to the federally qualified health center, we’ll be able to get more vulnerable people access to the vaccine quicker,” Haefner said.
Both centers said they have not received a steady weekly allotment from the state, and are hope that will now change. They said they are waiting to find out how many doses they'll receive.
Congressman Brian Higgins asked the Biden administration to include local clinics in the program. Higgins initially pushed for four centers in WNY to be included.
“Our federally qualified health centers already know how to get this done – communicating the importance of the vaccine, reaching out to the community, delivering quality care,” said Higgins. “This represents a major step forward in COVID vaccine distribution in Buffalo and Western New York."
Higgins said the Biden administration has indicated plans to expand the program to more FQHCs as vaccine supply increases. Higgins said he will push for Community Health Center of Buffalo to be added.
Glick said there are three FQHCs in Buffalo, one in Chautauqua, and one in Olean.
"It's really important for the work we do for public health for our region to be able to get the people we take care of vaccinated," Haefner said.