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Stimulus Relief Funding FAQ

How Resources Can Be Used for Vaccine Preparedness and Response

With several vaccines for COVID-19 incrementally becoming available to more people as production ramps up, state and local governments face the challenge of communicating the safety, effectiveness, and availability of the vaccine to all residents. Fortunately, the new COVID-19 stimulus bill, the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), specifically allocates funding for testing, tracing, and vaccination activities.

The CRRSAA stimulus bill appropriated $22.4 billion to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for activities related to surveillance, contact tracing, and testing. These funds will be allocated to state public health departments, which will likely further distribute some of their allocations to city and county health departments. Furthermore, within this $22.4 billion, the Indian Health Service will receive $790 million to further allocate to tribes and tribal organizations.

This stimulus bill also includes $4.5 billion to fund vaccine planning and distribution activities. The CDC will pass these funds to state public health departments, which can then further redistribute funds within their respective states. Under this grant, the Indian Health Service will also receive $210 million to further distribute to IHS facilities, tribes, and tribal organizations involved in vaccine distribution.

What Can You Do with These Funds?

Within 21 days of the stimulus bill’s passage (which took place on December 27th), states began receiving the funds. Stimulus bill funds can be used for a variety of public health projects centered around vaccinations, contact tracing, and surveillance. Because of their versatility, there’s a lot of potential for eligible expenses that include digital communications solutions as a piece of that larger project. This is especially true considering the importance of getting timely, accurate information out to the public about COVID-related developments where they live.

Fundable activities might include promoting vaccination clinic locations, advertising vaccine safety and effectiveness, providing alerts to residents who may have been exposed, and reaching underserved communities. Granicus’ COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Toolkit provides tools to help state and local governments achieve these goals with its digital communications solution, govDelivery. The govDelivery tool enables state and local governments to reach residents with website overlays, social media, and text messaging.

The Centers for Disease Control has already begun allocating these funds to state public health agencies. The next step for many agencies at the local level is determining how to access these public health funds for vaccine communications. 

Accessing CRRSAA Funds

The first step for many state and local governments will be to contact their relevant state- or territory-level health department to inquire about accessing CRRSAA emergency public health funding. While this funding went to state public health departments, funds were also allocated to five major metro areas: New York City, Los Angeles County, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. If you are located in one of those jurisdictions, then the first step would be to contact the appropriate local health department.

In either case, contacting the health department may simply require calling or emailing a contact your agency has with the department. If you don’t have an established contact, you may need to search the health department’s website for contact information. Once connected with the appropriate health department, ask where to find your health department’s program page and application guidelines for CRRSAA funds.

Preparing to Apply

Once you have the program information and application guidelines for your area’s CRRSAA funds, the next step will be to check the guidelines to ensure your agency (or an agency you can partner with) is eligible for funding from the program. States will likely set their own guidelines for awarding the funds at the local level, so eligibility may vary from location to location. After verifying eligibility, you will need to start preparing the staff necessary to apply for the grant. This will likely include local public health, IT, finance, grants, and communications staff. Each of these departments will provide expertise in their respective fields to ensure your application contains all the necessary information to be successful.

After you’ve assembled your application team, you will need to consider what kinds of purchases you plan to make through the grant program. Be sure to check the list of eligible expenses in the application guidance so that you do not include any uncovered expenses in your budget. Granicus’ COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Toolkit will likely be one of many expenses in your comprehensive project.

Applying for Funding

After you have your application team gathered and your budget outlined, you are ready to start applying! We expect CRRSAA applications to be similar to those of the previous COVID relief stimulus bill, the CARES Act, in that many states will have internal application procedures. This means that the application documents themselves may be relatively short, and much of the application process will be a dialogue between your application team and the funder, in this case the health department.

Some states will have more traditional competitive grant application guidelines for CRRSAA funds. In this case, your team will follow the steps outlined in the application guidance, but you can still contact the program manager to answer any questions that come up during the application process. Just be sure to give your team enough time before the application deadline to fill out all the required documentation and write the application narrative.

If your department does not have access to a grant writer, we recommend that you consider partnering with a department that does. Your local health department, emergency medical services (EMS) department, or emergency management department may all be good partners for a public health project, and these departments are likely to have their own grant writers.

Final Steps

With your application written and your documentation ready, submittal is the final step! Be sure to edit your application and have each department on your team review it and give suggestions. When reviewing your application, ensure that you’ve included all the information requested by your state’s public health department, along with any requested attachments.

Granicus will be there to help you to finish planning the implementation of your vaccine communications project. The Granicus Experience Group (GXG) is our team of digital strategists ready to help you plan and achieve your project goals. You can contact your Granicus representative any time to learn more about the digital communications solutions included in the COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Toolkit!