President Joe Biden wants more Americans to be vaccinated immediately under the theory that it’s better to get more people one shot than fewer people two. His target: 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office.
“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure so far,” he said.
Based on Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, 11.9 million doses have been administered since Covid-19 vaccines were introduced in the U.S. in mid-December, representing just 39 percent of the shots that have been distributed.
But Biden made it clear that the incoming administration is not changing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommended dosing schedule.
“We believe it is critical that everyone should get two doses within that FDA recommended timeframe,” he said.
Biden spoke Friday, Jan. 15, from Wilmington, Delaware, about his vaccination plan and called President Donald Trump’s effort dismal.
“The process of establishing priority groups was driven by science, but the problem – the implementation has been too rigid and confusing,” Biden said. “That has caused tens of millions of doses of vaccines sitting unused in a freezer.”
The Trump administration left it up to states and localities to define priority groups, but that has created confusion.
“If you were to ask most people today, they couldn’t tell you who exactly should be getting vaccinated,” Biden said.
In a tweet, Biden vowed that his administration would do everything to allow more people to get vaccinated, create more places for the people to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get shots in arms and increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as soon as possible.
Biden mentioned five steps, including the four he tweeted, that will help meet his goal of reaching 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his term. The fifth step is to ensure that the American people have the information and confidence they need to get vaccinated.
He plans to encourage states to open up eligibility to frontline essential workers, such as teachers, first responders, grocery store employees and anyone aged 65 and above – not just healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff.
The incoming administration also wants to set up federally-supported vaccination centers across the country to create more vaccination sites.
Under Biden’s plan, the federal government will provide regular projections of the allocations the states and localities will receive. The federal government will also be tasked to ensure the effective distribution, storage and transit of vaccines to states.
Biden also believes a community-based public health workforce is essential to have an effective vaccination program. He plans to encourage states to use their flexibility to increase their workforce, including expanding the scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate.
His plans are vague about timelines, reinforcing Biden’s stance that there will be no quick fix to the virus spread in the U.S.
“We didn’t get into all of this overnight. And we won’t get out of it overnight, either,” Biden said. “We remain in a very dark winter.”
Biden will make wearing a face mask a requirement on federal property and interstate travel and will ask people to “mask up” for 100 days after his inauguration – calling it a “patriotic act.” (Related: If Biden can force you to wear a mask, he can also force you to get vaccinated.)
He criticized Republican lawmakers who had refused to wear masks, including when they were locked down at the Capitol last week. Several House members have tested positive for coronavirus infection since the incident.
“What the hell is the matter with them? It’s time to grow up,” he said.
Trump also refused to be seen in public wearing a mask except on a handful of occasions.
The U.S. has more than 23 million confirmed cases and regularly recording 250,000 new cases each day. About 389,000 Americans have died from the virus, making the U.S. on pace for 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths by Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.