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State launches $40 million grant program to encourage COVID vaccines in doctor's offices

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Viktor Limanskiy, MD, administers the COVID-19 vaccine at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless in Stockton, in April 2021.

The California Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that it will make $40 million in grants available to help doctors' offices and small practices safely store and administer more COVID-19 vaccines.

With more than 74 percent of state residents age 12 and up at least partially vaccinated, the CDPH and its third-party vaccination administrator, Blue Shield of California, are focusing primarily on making vaccine doses widely accessible across the state, particularly in areas that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

The $40 million CalVaxGrant program will help them do so, according to state officials, by partially reimbursing small doctors' offices up to $55,000 for the staffing and infrastructure needed to set up small-scale vaccination clinics in their offices.

The state is making the grants available to health care practices with up to 200 physicians that apply at https://www.phcdocs.org/Programs/CalVaxGrant.

"Californians must take action to protect themselves and those in our communities who cannot get vaccinated, including children under age 12," CDPH Director and State Public Health Office Dr. Tomas Aragon said in a statement. "COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe, and our best tool in stopping the spread and mutation of variants."

The CDPH will also extend and expand its partnerships with nearly 500 community organizations across the state through October to combat vaccine misinformation and conduct outreach to vulnerable areas.

The state's "Get Out the Vaccine" door-knocking and phone banking outreach program has reached some 8 million residents and resulted in more than 875,000 vaccination appointments and referrals, according to the CDPH.

The efforts come as the state's rate of new cases has increased due to increased infections primarily among unvaccinated residents and the highly transmissible delta variant becoming the state's dominant COVID-19 strain.

"COVID-19 remains a very real threat to those who are unvaccinated," Aragon said in a statement. "It is imperative that we fight the disinformation that is leading Californians to be skeptical of this life-saving tool we now have."

California residents can inquire about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 by visiting https://myturn.ca.gov/ or calling (833) 422-4255.

CDC Doubles Down on Mask Requirements, for Vaccinated Americans. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky reiterated that it is still safe for vaccinated Americans to go maskless in most public settings. If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States, Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, via 'The Hill'. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is thought to be responsible for COVID-19 surges occurring all over the world. Parts of the U.S. in which vaccination rates fall well below the national average are prepping for significant increases in hospitalizations and deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently amended its own mask guidance. suggesting that even those who are vaccinated should continue to wear masks in public. In the U.S., health officials in Los Angeles County similarly amended its mask guidance for vaccinated residents. CDC Director Walensky responded to questions regarding both instances. The WHO has to make guidelines and provide information to the world [...] there are places around the world that are surging, Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, via 'The Hill'. We have always said that local policymakers need to make policies for their local environment, Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, via 'The Hill'. A recent British study found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine was 88 percent effective against the Delta variant

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