WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials said they will deploy 1,000 active duty troops to assist with Covid-19 vaccinations later this month and use the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of vaccine, tests and protective equipment.
Late yesterday, Johnson & Johnson became the third company to receive an emergency use authorization for a new vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer received authorizations for their vaccines in December, and both are being administered across the country.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines offer 94% to 95% effectiveness from developing COVID-19 and thwart nearly 100% of severe disease leading to death, Dr. Fauci said.
The military personnel will begin arriving in California within the next 10 days and assist at state vaccination sites there, said Covid-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients. The Pentagon is still weighing a broader request from FEMA for up to 10,000 troops, a U.S. military officer said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the decision, which will involve units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and include nurses and medical staff who will be administering the vaccinations, the officer said.
“The military’s critical role in supporting sites will help vaccinate thousands of people per day, and ensure that every American who wants a vaccine will receive one,” said Zients.
The increased involvement of the Defense Department is a shift in strategy from the Trump administration, which primarily left it to the states to figure out how to get shots in the arms of their residents.
Photo: Sailors prepare syringes of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine aboard the USS Essex in San Diego, Feb. 3, 2021. This marked the first time personnel received vaccines aboard a U.S. Pacific Fleet warship.
Under the former administration Operation Warp Speed was “a public-private partnership whose goal is to deliver 300 hundred million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year.”
“The Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department are partnered to work with private industry and other federal departments and agencies on this unprecedented effort.”
At a campaign debate then Presidential Candidate Joe Biden gave then President Donald J. Trump some credit. “I think the administration deserves some credit getting this off the ground with Operation Warp Speed,” Biden conceded as he and his wife got their Pfizer-BioNTech injection. Biden’s concession to Trump hasn’t gotten the media attention it should. And it would be a great gesture of unity if Biden more deliberately recognized Trump’s efforts.