President-elect Joe Biden plans to work with FEMA and the National Guard to establish coronavirus vaccination clinics in the United States. This emerges from new details of his vaccination schedule for Covid-19 released on Friday by his transition team.
The Biden administration will also “quickly get underway” efforts to make vaccines available at local pharmacies in the US to ensure Americans have access to doses in facilities just miles from their homes as per the plan are away.
“Here’s the deal: the more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and leave this pandemic behind and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. Thursday night. “We’re not going to come out overnight and we can’t do it as a separate nation.”
Drug chains and pharmacies should play a bigger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expanded access to more people. But the slower than expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores earlier this week called on the federal government to allow states to send more doses directly to pharmacies than hospitals and health departments do.
The group estimated that the country’s retail pharmacies could deliver at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, surpassing the incoming government’s promise of 100 million shots in 100 days.
The Biden administration said current vaccination efforts are insufficient to vaccinate the vast majority of the US population quickly and fairly, adding, “We need to make sure local people have what they need to get vaccinations to get into people’s arms. “
The pace of vaccination in the US is much slower than officials hoped. More than 31.1 million doses of vaccine had been distributed in the U.S. as of 6 a.m. ET Friday, but just over 12.2 million vaccinations had been given, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cases are now increasing rapidly. The United States records at least 238,800 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,310 virus-related deaths every day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using data from Johns Hopkins University.
“We are staying in a very dark winter,” said Biden during a speech on Friday. “Almost a year later, we are still a long way from going back to normal. The honest truth is, things get worse before they get better,” he said. He called the vaccine rollout in the US a “failure”.
According to the plan, Biden will also apply the Defense Production Act to “maximize vaccine production and vaccine supplies for the country.”
The new president’s advisors had previously indicated that he would be invoking the wartime manufacturing law, which allows the president to force companies to prioritize manufacturing for national security in order to bolster vaccine production.
“The policy changes we are going to make will take some time to show up in the Covid statistics. It’s not just statistics, it’s people’s lives,” Biden said on Friday.
The plan says the law will increase the supply of necessary equipment that could otherwise lead to bottlenecks in the introduction of the vaccine if that shortage exists, including vials, syringes, stoppers and needles. It will also increase the capacity to vial the vaccines.
Biden’s plan will also encourage states to open eligibility beyond health workers and residents and long-term care facility workers to include key frontline workers such as teachers, first responders, grocery store workers, and anyone age 65 and over.
The CDC issued new guidelines on Tuesday extending eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to anyone aged 65 and over, as well as those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes. About 53 million Americans aged 65 and over and 110 million people between the ages of 16 and 64 with comorbid conditions can now get the vaccine if every state adopts the guidelines, according to the CDC.
“It does not mean that everyone in these groups will be vaccinated immediately because the care is not where it needs to be,” wrote the transition team. “But it will mean that once vaccines are available, they will reach more people who need them.”
Biden said the government also plans to launch a public information campaign to “rebuild that confidence” as some polls indicate Americans are skeptical about getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
“We will help people understand what science is telling us. That the vaccines can reduce the risk of Covid infections and better protect our health and the health of our families and our communities,” said the president-elect.
“Our plan is as clear as it is brave,” he added. Let more people vaccinate for free, create more places to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms, increase the supply and get it out the door ASAP . This will be one of the most challenging operations our country has ever undertaken, but you have my word. We’re going to make hell out of this operation. “