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FEMA Releases Updated Policy for Public Assistance Related to COVID-19

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released an updated version of its “Coronavirus Pandemic Medical Care Eligible for Public Assistance” policy.  

The updated version includes a new section on allowable costs associated with COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration. It also updates the conditions of receiving funding to ensure that recipients focus the use of FEMA funding on underserved populations and high-risk communities. Finally, the policy provides details on changes to the federal cost share percentage.  

Vaccine Distribution and Administration: Costs related to the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines may be eligible for reimbursement. While the federal government is providing the vaccine at no cost, there may be additional costs incurred to support the vaccine distribution and administration. Eligible costs may include: 

  • Community vaccination centers  
  • Personal protective equipment, other equipment, and supplies required for storing, handling, distributing/transporting, and administering COVID-19 vaccinations 
  • Facility support costs, including leasing space for storage and/or administration of vaccines, utilities, maintenance, and security  
  • Additional staff, if necessary, including medical and support staff not paid for by another funding source and consistent with FEMA PA Public Assistance labor policies 
  • Resources to support mobile COVID-19 vaccination in remote areas and/or transportation support for individuals with limited mobility or lack of access to transportation, when reasonable and necessary 
  • Onsite infection control measures and emergency medical care for COVID-19 vaccination administration sites 
  • Vaccine-related costs incurred by a Federally Qualified Health Center, rural health clinics, and critical access hospitals that are not covered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or another funding source 
  • Communications to disseminate public information regarding vaccinations including translation and interpretation services as necessary 
  • Information technology equipment and systems, when reasonable and necessary, for patient registration and tracking, vaccine-related inventory management, and/or analytics and reporting needs. 
  • Training and technical assistance specific to the proper storage, handling, distribution, and administration of COVID-19 vaccinations in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance 
  • Vaccination administration consistent with equitable pandemic response and recovery 

Equitable Response and Recovery: As a condition of receiving financial assistance, recipients must focus the use of FEMA funding on the highest-risk communities and underserved populations as determined by established measures of social and economic disadvantage. Recipients must prioritize limited resources to ensure an equitable pandemic response. Failure to adhere to this policy could result in funding reductions and/or delays.  

Federal Cost Share Increases to 100%: FEMA will increase the federal cost share for all COVID-19 declarations from 75% to 100%  for eligible work performed or to be performed from Jan. 20, 2020 through September Sept. 30, 2021. For previously awarded projects, FEMA will obligate additional funding to increase the federal funding from 75%  to 100% .  

The updated policy also incorporates the descriptions of eligible costs associated with primary medical care facilities and temporary medical care facilities included in prior releases. A compilation of FEMA COVID-19 public assistance policies can be found at: Public Assistance Disaster-Specific Guidance – COVID-19 Declarations.