National service agency deploys disaster response teams nationwide to increase vaccine access in underserved communities, reduce wait times, and help get more people to vaccination sites

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Biden’s commitment to safely vaccinate 200 million Americans before the end of April, the federal agency for national service, AmeriCorps, has deployed members to more than 100 vaccination centers and mobile clinics across the country to augment efforts by local, state, and federal agencies to get shots in arms of eligible adults.

Members of the agency’s elite AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team, along with those from the FEMA Corps program, have filled gaps in locations with critical support needs and are providing the additional labor needed to ensure every American has information about and access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. FEMA Corps is a 10-year partnership between AmeriCorps and FEMA which creates unique teams within the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) of specially trained 18‐26‐year‐old participants who get the opportunity to serve communities impacted by disaster while gaining professional development experience.

“AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers are increasing the capacity of COVID-19 vaccination centers around the country and ensuring that Americans living in underserved communities have access to the vaccine,” said Karen Dahl, Senior Advisor for COVID-19 at AmeriCorps. “They are making lines move faster, getting people off waiting lists, improving site operations, coordinating transportation, and providing comfort to vulnerable community members. This impact shows that the people power of national service is a crucial force multiplier, especially in a time when the country needs it most.”

Since vaccination efforts began earlier this year, nearly 600 AmeriCorps members have assisted more than 1 million people, helping them register for vaccination appointments and guiding them throughout the vaccination process.

“We were serving in Venice, Calif., at a mobile vaccination site when a patient came through whose 99th birthday is coming up soon,” said Mary Gill, an AmeriCorps NCCC Team Leader deployed to a California vaccination center. “After receiving her second dose of the vaccine, she was so thankful. She shared that her grandson had received his second dose recently and he was on his way to give his grandmother a hug. We’re reuniting families, one dose at a time!”

In addition to vaccination site support, at least 33,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers have provided COVID-19 direct relief, assisting an additional 6 million people, providing 15 million meals, collecting and distributing more than 34,000 tons of food, conducting more than 1.3 million wellness checks, and registering thousands of additional community volunteers to support COVID-19 response.

With existing programs in more than 40,000 locations across the country, AmeriCorps is uniquely positioned to bolster community response efforts. For the past year, thousands of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors members across all 50 states and U.S. territories have continued their service, quickly adapting to meet the changing needs caused by the pandemic. In addition to their support of vaccination centers, AmeriCorps programs are delivering crucial services to:

  • Combat student education loss, including mentoring and reading programs directed at improving student success and supporting teachers virtually, as well as in classrooms
  • Fight food insecurity for the more than 42 million Americans who are on the brink of going without meals
  • Support more than 2,000 nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and tribal communities running COVID-19 recovery programs, as well as programs that are working in local communities to develop jobs skills for the American people and AmeriCorps members
  • Provide companionship to homebound seniors, ensuring that food, healthcare and social services are readily available to some of the country’s most vulnerable populations

The recently passed American Rescue Plan includes an additional $1 billion for AmeriCorps. The agency will use this investment to expand national service programs into new communities and increase the opportunity for all Americans to serve their country.