WASHINGTON — The government is providing $7.4 billion to expand the nation’s public health capacity by hiring school nurses to vaccinate kids and creating a service corps around health care.
Biden administration coronavirus testing coordinator Carole Johnson says it’s part of a strategy to respond to immediate needs in the COVID-19 pandemic while investing to break the cycle of ‘boom and bust’ financing. About $4.4 billion will go to immediate priorities in fighting the pandemic.
That includes $3.4 billion for states and local health departments to step up hiring of vaccinators, contact tracing workers, virus testing technicians and epidemiologists, who are disease detectives trained to piece together the evidence on the spread of pathogens.
There’s also $500 million for hiring school nurses, who could play a key role in vaccination now that the Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for use by teenagers.
An additional $400 million will set up the Public Health AmeriCorps, a service program that enlists young people early in their careers. The money is expected to support tens of thousands of new jobs over a period of five years, Johnson says.