FEMA Advisory: FEMA’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (February 5, 2021)

FEMA Advisory

FEMA's Role in 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 $1.98 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 Americans vaccinated.
  • Prior to the executive orders to expand vaccination efforts, FEMA obligated more than $57.5 billion towards COVID-19 response efforts to support our state, tribal and territorial partners during this pandemic. This funding was at a 75% cost share.
  • FEMA has launched a Vaccine Support page to keep the public informed about the agency’s support of the White House COVID-19 Response Plan and information on how to get vaccinated.

Federal Funding to Accelerate Vaccine Efforts 

  • FEMA, in accordance with President Biden’s Jan. 21 Memorandum, will provide reimbursement to states, local, tribal and territorial governments and the District of Columbia for the use of their National Guard to respond to COVID-19 and other assistance, which may include support to vaccination distribution and administration, 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, if not funded by HHS/CDC or another federal agency.
  • 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.  
  • FEMA is supporting vaccination centers by providing expedited financial assistance, federal equipment and supplies, and deploying federal personnel to states, tribes, territories and other eligible applicants for vaccination efforts. This assistance is processed when a request is submitted.
  • FEMA is supporting COVID-19 vaccine distribution by providing reimbursement to governments for costs associated with vaccine distribution and administration.
  • As of Feb. 4, the Disaster Relief Fund balance is more than $12.6 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.
  • 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. 4, FEMA has provided more than $1.98 billion to 24 states, the District of Columbia, three territories and two tribes for expenses related to COVID-19 vaccination at 100% federal cost share. In the last 48 hours, the following obligation over $1 million was made:
    • $274.9 million to Washington.
  • These funds cover emergency protective measures to include:
    • Supplies and commodities needed to safely store and administer the vaccine.
    • Transportation support and reasonable, necessary security for refrigerated trucks and support for leasing space to store and/or administer vaccines including utilities, maintenance and security.
    • Medical and support staff including onsite infection control measures, personal protective equipment for staff, cloth face coverings for patients, temperature scanners, physical barriers and disinfection of the facility in accordance with CDC guidance.
    • Dissemination of public information and communication regarding vaccinations.
  • 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.
  • 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. The contract is open for proposals until Feb.8.

Federal Coordination to Identify and Fill Resource Gaps

  • FEMA is working closely with state, local, tribal and territorial governments to fill gaps that local health officials have identified. Additionally, emergency managers are working closely with appropriate health officials.

FEMA and Other Federal Agencies Are Supporting Vaccine Centers

  • 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. FEMA is providing support to established community vaccination centers and National Guard operations to expand access to vaccines.
  • A vaccine center is considered federally supported based on three characteristics:
    • It is a state, local, tribal or territorial established vaccine center that is receiving any combination of federal personnel, materiel or funding.
    • The federal support enables the center to open, remain open, or expand capacity.
    • The center is, or has been, operational on or after Jan 20.
  • FEMA is committed to ensuring every American who wants a vaccine can get one. To reach underserved and rural communities, FEMA and its federal partners are helping determine community vaccination center locations to ensure equitable access. This includes coordination efforts to establish and support fixed facilities and establishing pop-up or temporary vaccination centers and mobile vaccination efforts.
  • Additionally, FEMA established a Civil Rights Advisory Group. Civil rights advisors are deployed to all regions assisting with equity in vaccine operations, including community engagement, community assessments, equal access/accessibility and site inspections.
  • As of Feb. 4, FEMA has deployed 507 staff across the nation to provide federally supported vaccine centers with personnel and technical assistance. This does not include support personnel from other federal agencies or partners. Additional FEMA staff across the country are supporting virtually.
  • As of Feb. 4, 175 federally supported vaccine centers are operational across the country.

Community Vaccination Center Pilot Partnerships

  • The federal government is partnering with state governments to launch a small number of pilot community vaccination using primarily federal staff to support of state and local governments.
  • Piloting these centers allows FEMA and its federal partners to ensure the success of a small number of centers before preparing additional support as vaccine supplies ramp up in the weeks and months ahead.
  • On Tuesday, FEMA, and the state of California partnered to launch a pilot project to establish community vaccination centers in Los Angeles and Oakland. FEMA will provide resources, operational support and federal staffing support to establish these new centers. The centers are expected to be open to eligible members of the public beginning Feb. 16.

Vaccine Guidance

  • According to CDC, as of Feb. 4 more than 33.9 million vaccine doses have been administered. More than 55.9 million vaccine doses have been distributed to locations across the country.
  • The CDC Vaccine Task Force and Data Analysis & Visualization Task Force recently launched the CDC COVID Data Tracker Vaccinations Trends page. This page includes the overall trends of vaccinations over time in the US and for the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.
  • FEMA is working with the Ad Council to encourage hesitant or underrepresented Americans to get vaccinated. This research-driven public education campaign provides federal, non-profit, and medical stakeholders with insights and communications strategies to tailor communications to reach diverse audiences.
  • The vaccine is not a perfect fix. Everyone should continue to practice other precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures until public health officials say otherwise.

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