When Biden was sworn into office, one of the first issues he began to work on was managing the pandemic. Until now, he has been working to help deliver over 81 million vaccines to Americans. As of March 11, he announced that all adult Americans will be eligible for vaccination no later than May 1.
After this occurs, the Biden administration plans to increase the number of vaccine locations, especially in the hard-to-reach population of the states, which include Tribal communities and rural and low-income communities; this focus will lie on community health centers, pharmacies, and community vaccination centers.
Increasing the number of people providing support and delivering vaccines will also be a major focus in order to help expedite this process. This will be done by employing active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts, as well as widening the range of qualified professionals that can administer the vaccine to dentists, Emergency Medical Technicians, midwives, podiatrists, respiratory therapists, veterinarians, medical and nursing students, and qualified healthcare students. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services also plans to launch a site that will help determine eligibility for those who wish to volunteer to administer vaccines.
A centralized government-supported website to help show locations that have vaccination appointments available and technical support to preexisting sites will also be employed, as well as a 1-800 number for those who may not have internet access.
Since the announcement, Alaska (the first to expand vaccinations to all residents 16 and older), Mississippi, and New York have extended their eligibility well before President Biden’s deadline.
Dr. William Schaffner, while supportive, addressed concerns on if the supply will be able to meet the demand. He also stated, “the companies must have given real firm assurances that they are going to produce and ship vaccines in sufficient amounts,” while addressing these concerns.
President Biden ordered 100 million more doses of Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, which will not be available until the second half of 2021, and is awaiting the 600 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna shots he already ordered. The administration states that as long as there are no manufacturing disruptions and if there is a surplus amount remaining, the surplus will be shared with the world.
As of now, there is no vaccine that has been approved for those under 16, but studies are underway.
Lastly, to combat the continued hesitancy to vaccinate, the Biden Administration wants to increase access and spread vaccine information more readily to help sway those who are still unsure. The administration will also work towards expanding testing sites for COVID-19 and working to get educators vaccinated to expedite the opening of schools; with a $1.75 billion investment, the administration will also be working on genomic sequencing to help better track new variants and slow their spread.