Investigates: Local healthcare organizations to receive nearly $14 million for better vaccine access

Jacksonville, FL. — Edward Waters College is in an underserved area of town that is thankful to have a vaccination site.

It’s run in partnership with Agape Health, one of the three local organizations that will receive millions; but they had no idea the Monday was coming until Action News Jax told them.

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Agape Community Health Center, Sulzbacher center for the Homeless and Aza Health (Rural Health Care, inc.) are the three facilities in the Jacksonville area getting millions of federal dollars to help expand vaccine access.

Each healthcare center already provides vaccines to underserved communities and now their reach will grow.

Phyllis Williams-Young is thankful to finally be fully vaccinated, but says the money should be used to help people get to the sites.

“Of course new facilities would be great, but I think a lot of people are having transportation issues of getting to the vaccinations,” she said. “So, I guess some of those funds could go there to make sure people are getting to the actual location.”

In total these sites are getting close to $14 million dollars, the Biden administration made the announcement today.

When Action News Jax followed up with the groups, we learned none were aware the money was coming.

Rural Health inc. with Aza Health provided the following statement to Action News Jax:

“This is great news! Aza Health is extremely pleased to receive this grant award. We have yet to receive the official award announcement and we will need to review the parameters to see how we can use the funding, but at a minimum we know that this will allow us to significantly expand our Covid-19 vaccination efforts in our six-county service area. This news, along with Governor DeSantis’ decision to continue to expand vaccine eligibility over the coming weeks, is a real shot in the arm (pun intended) in our fight to bring this pandemic to an end. Aza Health is honored to receive this award on behalf of our communities and we will continue to do our part to improve the health and wellness of the communities we serve. Thank you.”

Williams-Young said the underserved communities still desperately need the vaccine. While it’s great to see more locations in general, you need to have people there to use them.

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“Hopefully, we will have the arms for the shots when we lower the age and hopefully it’s not too long of a wait,” she said.

Agape Community Health provided the following statement to Action News Jax:

“Agape Family Health continues to serve the community as a trusted healthcare resource by providing medical home services. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, Agape is mandated to provide access to healthcare while addressing health equity challenges in communities with high social vulnerability indexes. This funding will allow Agape to continue to support our COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, by providing additional access to the vaccine, as well as address wellness issues of the most vulnerable in our community.”