FEMA's Role in Covid-19 Vaccine

This Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources, an important part of FEMA's mission to help people before, during, and after disasters. We're building a culture of preparedness together.

FEMA Advisory: FEMA’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (February 11, 2021)

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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 $3.16 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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. 10, FEMA has provided more than $3.16 billion to 30 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 can help protect and save lives.
  • 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.
  • 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. 10, the Disaster Relief Fund balance is more than $12.3 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

  • FEMA is seeking bids to contract medical personnel to help staff both federally supported and community vaccine 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. 10, FEMA has deployed 1,154 staff across the nation to support vaccine 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.
  • FEMA Corps teams are supporting a vaccination center in New Jersey. Additional teams are scheduled to deploy next week in support of the state.
  • 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 1,171 vaccinators, to 348 vaccination centers in 42 states and territories.
  • Additionally, 302 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 vaccine 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.
    • FEMA is analyzing community demographics, coordinating translation and interpretation services, to include American Sign Language, and is considering the needs of people with disabilities who choose to be vaccinated.

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.  

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