CORONAVIRUS VACCINATION

What is Biden’s vaccine plan for the US? Dates and priority groups

President Biden set the ambitious target of distributing 100 million vaccinations in just 100 days, but how does he intend to improve vaccine roll-out so quickly?

What is Biden’s vaccine plan for the US? Dates and priority groups
KEVIN LAMARQUE REUTERS

President Joe Biden’s enormous vaccination push has begun as he looks to rapidly expand the system left by his predecessor. Before taking office Biden made bold claims of administering 100 million shots of covid-19 vaccines in his first 100 days, and appears to be on-track for that mark.

Health officials for the new administration were said to be underwhelmed by the vaccination infrastructure put together by former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed task force. Already Biden’s team have made some key changes to federal policy which will see vaccines offered to priority groups much quicker.

Retail pharmacies to be used for federal vaccine distribution

After the pharmaceutical breakthrough finally came in late-2020, attention began to focus on the roll-out procedure for the life-saving vaccines. The Trump administration, concerned about potential disruption to the supply chain, only used about half of the vaccines in the federal government’s possession, to ensure there were enough for the second dose.

Biden’s aggressive targets for vaccine distribution have seen him reverse this rule and his health department have upped the distribution. In a new development federal doses of the vaccine are being sent to retail pharmacies, particularly those in more remote locations.

This new measure was announced earlier this week and White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that they expect around one million doses to be distributed to pharmacies on a weekly basis.

“The Centers for Disease Control, which has quite a bit of experience working with pharmacies, is making sure that we are picking pharmacies in that first phase that are located in areas that are harder to reach to ensure that we have equitable distribution of the pharmacy doses,” Zients said.

First 100 days remains a key target for vaccination effort

Before taking office Biden promised to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during the first 100 days of his presidency. For now the effort continues to focus on priority groups, such as the elderly or medically vulnerable, and those employed in healthcare.

To do so Biden is increasing the federally-run vaccination system in a more joined-up approach than the Trump administration implemented. Previously much of the legwork was left to state and local government officials to decide, but Biden is placing a new emphasis on the national effort.

In an interview with WFXE-FM, Biden said: “Our plan is going to focus on getting shots into arms, including by launching a fundamentally new approach, establishing thousands of federally run or federally supported community vaccination centres of various size located in places like high school gymnasiums and N.F.L. stadiums.”

He added that the network of new vaccination centres “can be run by federal staff, contractors, volunteers, including FEMA, you know, the emergency management group, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. military, the National Guard.”

On Tuesday the White House announced that it would be increasing the weekly vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories to 10.5 million doses. This considerable rise will begin from this week, and represents a 22% increase in the rate of distribution since Biden took office on 20 January.