President-elect Joe Biden will use FEMA and the National Guard to set up Covid vaccine clinics across the US, according to his plan.
Apart from Covid vaccine clinics, the Biden administration will “quickly jumpstart” measures to widen the availability of coronavirus vaccines, particularly at local pharmacies across the US. The plan states that this would ensure that Americans can access doses at facilities near their homes.
“Here’s the deal: The more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday night. “We won’t get out of it overnight, and we can’t do it as a separated nation.”
Drugstore chains and pharmacies were expected to play a bigger role in distributing the vaccine. However, slow vaccine rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores asked the federal government earlier this week to allow states to distribute more doses directly to pharmacies like in hospitals and health departments.
The association suggests that the country’s pharmacies could deliver at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, which would go beyond the incoming administration’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.
The Biden administration admitted that current vaccination efforts are not enough to quickly inoculate the vast majority of the population, stressing, “We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms.”
The US has reported at least 238,800 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,310 virus-related deaths each day, according to a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins University data.
“We remain in a very dark winter,” Biden said during a speech on Friday. “Almost a year later we’re still far from back to normal. The honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better,” he said. He called the vaccine rollout in the U.S. a “failure.”
Biden’s plan also shows that the new administration will invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”
“The policy changes that we’re going to be making are going to take time to show up in the Covid statistics. It’s not just statistics, it’s people’s lives,” Biden said Friday.
Moreover, the plan explains that the act will improve the supply of necessary equipment that could otherwise slow down the vaccine’s rollout if there were a shortage. This includes glass vials, syringes, stoppers, and needles. It will also widen the capacity for placing the vaccines into vials.
Biden’s administration wants to have 100 federally supported centers across the country that will inoculate millions of people. “And as governors of both parties have asked, our administration will reimburse states 100 percent when their National Guard is deployed in the fight against COVID-19,” the Biden’s team wrote.
Biden’s plan aims to urge states to open up eligibility beyond health-care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff, and welcome front-line essential workers such as teachers, grocery store employees, first responders, and anyone who is 65 and older.
Meanwhile, the CDC on Tuesday released new rules that allowed coronavirus vaccine eligibility to cover people age 65 and older as well as to those with comorbid conditions, such as diabetes.
“It won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, as supply is not where it needs to be,” Biden’s team wrote. “But it will mean that as vaccines become available, they will reach more people who need them.”
“We’ll help people understand what science tells us. That the vaccines help reduce the risk of Covid infections and can better safeguard our health and the health of our families and our communities,” the president-elect said.
“Our plan is as clear as it is bold,” he added. “Get more people vaccinated for free, create more places for them to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms, increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible. This will be one of the most challenging operation efforts ever undertaken by our country, but you have my word. We will manage the hell out of this operation.”