TUESDAY, March 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The Biden administration will provide $250 million in federal grants to community organizations that encourage underserved and minority populations to get COVID-19 vaccinations and follow safety measures to prevent infection.

The initiative is meant to help local governments boost COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and other pandemic mitigation measures, while teaming with groups that best know how to support their communities, according to a U.S. Health and Human Services Department official, CBS News reported.

The program was announced Monday by Vice President Kamala Harris in remarks to the National League of Cities, which includes thousands of city, town, and village leaders. Harris, who has been trying to reduce racial, cultural, and socioeconomic disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, urged league members to embrace the plan, CBS News reported.

The White House and other federal agencies have held listening sessions with various groups with a focus on increasing vaccine confidence and addressing other barriers. When she was still a California senator, Harris introduced the COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act of 2020, CBS News reported.

According to the latest data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the vaccination rate among White Americans was more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for Hispanic people and nearly twice as high as the rate for Black people, CBS News reported.

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