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Polk County nonprofit health center receives $10.6M to make COVID-19 vaccine more accessible

Posted at 4:17 PM, Apr 09, 2021

LAKELAND, Fla. — A Polk County nonprofit community health center will be able to give out more COVID-19 shots thanks to a multi-million-dollar grant.

Central Florida Health Care, based in Lakeland, has a total of 14 centers in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.

"We are providing COVID testing in all of our locations. We're providing COVID vaccines in most of our locations. Also, doing it on mobile units," said Ann Claussen, CEO Central Florida Health Care.

The nonprofit community health center has already administered 5,000 vaccines.

That number will grow now that the clinic is receiving a $10,612,750 grant through the American Rescue Plan to expand its COVID-19 vaccination operations.

The CEO said they've partnered with local churches and will use the funds to continue providing vaccines to people who don't have access to it.

"That population is either elderly or they just have transportation issues, so that partnership with the churches has been instrumental," Claussen said.

The nonprofit will need to hire more healthcare workers to do more outreach. Claussen said the grant will help with that as well.

"We have been providing the vaccine in the clinic, and when we do that, we have to pull staff away from patient care. And so, this opportunity to hire more staff will be very helpful so we can utilize that staff to go and do the outreach piece," said Claussen.

The health center is also considering purchasing another mobile unit to get more underserved communities vaccinated.