WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The White House is increasing the supply of coronavirus vaccines beginning next week, with an aim to ensure the equity of the distribution of doses.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the chair of the White House’s COVID-19 equity task force, said Tuesday that the federal government is devoting 1 million doses to begin distributing vaccines at 250 community health centers. It’s meant to be a first phase of a program to expand vaccinations to the more than 1,300 federally supported community health centers, which primarily care for low-income and uninsured populations. This will begin Monday, Feb. 15.
“Starting the week of February 15, Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) will begin directly receiving vaccine supply. Many people know these as Community Health Centers,” the Biden administration said in a statement. “Community Health Centers provide primary care services in underserved communities across the country. There are more than 1,300 Community Health Centers serving almost 30 million people across the country.”
COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, “Efficiency and equity are both central to what we’re doing.”
Zients also announced states will see their allocation of doses rise to 11 million per week, starting next week. That’s up more than 2 million since President Joe Biden took office.
Zients said at the Tuesday briefing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would hold a forum on vaccines to discuss national implementation strategies.
Over 17 million vaccine doses have so far been given to people over 65, Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House’s COVID-19 response team, said Monday. Nearly 60 million vaccine doses have been distributed, with roughly 42 million doses administered, according to the latest data from the CDC.
In a briefing Monday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that a variant of COVID-19 first found in the United Kingdom could become the “dominant” strain in the U.S. by the end of March. But Dr. Fauci emphasized that both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are “quite effective” against the strain, urging Americans to not delay their second vaccine doses in order to prevent its spread.
The optimal “approach would be to continue with getting as many people on their first dose as possible but also making sure that people on time get their second dose,” Fauci said.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky advised people to continue wearing masks and that states not relax mask-wearing rules. The Biden Administration has asked Americans to wear masks for its first 100 days.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.