WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation Now) — With the incoming Biden-Harris administration just days away from taking office, the president-elect Friday outlined his plan to scale and speed up the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
“We will discuss five things we will do to turn frustration into motivation and help meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days in office,” Biden said at a news conference Friday.
The Biden administration’s five steps toward increased vaccination distribution include:
1. Getting more Americans vaccinated
Biden said he will immediately work with states to open up vaccinations to more priority groups including frontline workers and individuals 65 and over. Biden said the implementation of vaccines has been too rigid and confusing. He hopes his plan will ease those efforts as he plans to target hard-to-reach marginalized communities.
2. Create more vaccination sites
“We’re going to harness the full resources of the federal government to establish thousands of community vaccination centers. On my first day in office I’ll instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin setting up the first of these centers,” Biden said. “By the end of our first month in office, we will have 100 federally funded centers across the nation that will ultimately vaccinate millions of people.”
His administration plans to fully reimburse state deployment of the National Guard to support vaccinations and provide additional FEMA assistance, launch mobile vaccination clinics, make vaccines available in pharmacies, form a new partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers nationwide, and create programs available for high-risk congregate settings, including homeless shelters, jails, and institutions that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
3. Increase vaccine supply and speed up efforts
Biden’s plan details how he will maximize the manufacture of the vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country, including using the Defense Production Act, provide reliable and regular projections of the allocations states will receive, and ultimately release more vaccines when they are available so more people can get vaccinated quickly.
4. Mobilize more professionals to administer shots
Biden promised Friday additional qualified professionals to administer vaccines and establish a public health jobs program to support COVID-19 response.
“We will provide resources to help states cover the costs of personnel, vaccinators and administrative staff, as well as supplies like dry ice, laptops, and protective equipment,” Biden said.
Biden also said he is not changing the FDA’s recommended dosing schedule. He believes “everyone should get two doses within that FDA recommended timeframe.”
5. Educate Americans about vaccination
The Biden administration said it will launch a federally led, locally-focused public education campaign to build public trust through increased transparency and communication around COVID-19 vaccines.
“We also promise to provide regular updates to you, the American people, on our progress and our goals. We will be transparent about the decisions we are making and why,” Biden said.
“The vaccines offer so much hope but the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far,” Biden said Thursday in a speech unveiling a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan seeking to stem the virus and revive the economy hard hit by the pandemic.
Biden’s new economic proposal includes $20 billion for vaccine distribution, as well as $50 billion for COVID-19 testing. He has also called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.
Across the U.S., COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 380,000 people since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins. States have recently begun expanding eligibility to get more Americans vaccinated following recent complaints that too many shots were sitting on shelves unused because of overly rigid adherence to federal guidelines, which put health care workers and nursing home residents at the front of the line.
President Donald Trump’s administration had aimed to give vaccine doses to 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 but fell far short of that target. This week, federal officials sought to speed up the process, saying the administration will release millions of doses it had been holding back for second shots. Federal officials also urged states to offer the shots to all Americans over 65 or with chronic health conditions.
While the country is entering its next phase in the vaccination process, the slow first stage has been riddled with a number of logistical hurdles at the state and local level. The federal government in many cases had blamed the states for the slow rollout. But leaders in many states have called out inadequate funding and guidance from Washington, saying they often don’t know how many doses are coming, or when, until the last minute.
Biden said Thursday that the effort to vaccinate more Americans “will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we’ve ever undertaken as a nation.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.