WILMINGTON, Delaware — President-elect Biden outlined Friday his plan for vaccinating 100 million Americans against the coronavirus during his first 100 days in office, and also castigated Republican members of Congress who refused to wear masks during the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol.
“It was shocking to see members of Congress, when the Capitol was under siege by a deadly mob of thugs, refuse to wear a mask while they were in secure locations,” Biden said. “What the hell’s the matter with them? It’s time to grow up.”
The result, he continued, was that “at least four members of Congress, including a cancer survivor, now have COVID-19 who were in those rooms. For God’s sake — wear a mask, if not for yourself, for your loved ones, for your country.”
Biden listed five steps his administration would take to achieve his vaccination goals. He admitted his plan was ambitious but added, “I’m convinced we can get it done.”
- Work with states to open up vaccinations to more priority groups. “Implementation has been too rigid and confusing,” he said. “If you were to ask most people today, they couldn’t tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated. What they do know is that tens of millions of doses are sitting unused in freezers around the country … We’ll fix the problem by encouraging states to allow more people to get vaccinated beyond healthcare workers, and move through those groups as quickly as they think we can.” This would mean expanding the vaccination pool to include anyone 65 and older — people who account for 80% of deaths to date — as well as frontline essential workers such as educators, first responders, and grocery store workers, he said
- Set up more vaccination sites. “We will harness the full resources of the federal government to establish thousands of vaccination centers,” Biden said. “On my first day in office I will instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up the first of these centers,” with a goal of getting 100 set up in the first month. “Think of places that are convenient and accessible,” such as school gyms, sports stadiums, and community centers, Biden said. “And as we build them, we are going to make sure it’s done equitably, and make sure there are vaccination centers in communities hit hardest by the pandemic.” In addition, the Biden administration will deploy “mobile clinics moving from community to community that will partner with community health centers and primary care doctors to offer vaccines to hard-hit and hard-to-reach communities. The centers will be staffed by both clinical and non-clinical professionals, including retired healthcare workers,” he said
- Fully activate pharmacies across the country to administer vaccinations. “Millions of Americans turn to local pharmacies every day for medications, flu shots, and much more,” Biden said. “We will start new efforts working with independent and chain pharmacies to get Americans vaccinated,” and they will be able to make an appointment and get their shot quickly
- Use the full strength of the federal government to ramp up the supply of vaccines. “We’ll use the Defense Production Act to work with private industry to accelerate the making of materials needed to supply and administer the vaccine, from the tubes and syringes to protective equipment. The Biden transition team has already identified suppliers to work with the administration.” He added that the Trump administration’s earlier policy of holding back half of the available vaccines to make sure they’re available for second doses doesn’t make sense. “Our administration will release the vast majority of the vaccines when they’re available, so more people can get vaccinated quickly, while still retaining a small reserve for any unseen shortages or delays.” The administration also is sticking with the FDA’s recommendations for vaccine dosages and dosing schedules, he said. “We believe it’s critical that everyone get two doses within the FDA recommended timeframe”
- Always be honest and transparent about where things stand. That includes “both the good news as well as the bad,” he said. “We’ll make sure state and local officials know how much supply they’ll be getting and when they can expect to get it so they can plan. Right now we’re hearing they can’t plan” because they don’t know how much to expect and when. “That stops when we’re in office. We’ll also provide regular updates to the American people on our progress and our goals … Our administration will lead with science and scientists with the CDC and the National Institutes of Health that will be totally free from political influence.”
Biden also mentioned two other steps he was going to take; one is to work on getting rid of vaccine hesitancy and rebuilding trust. “We know that’s the case in Black, Latino, and Native American communities — people who have not always been treated with the dignity and honesty they deserve by the federal government and the scientific community,” said Biden. “Our administration and throughout our history we’ve seen that disinformation campaigns are already underway to further undermine trust in the vaccines. Our administration will launch a massive public education campaign to rebuild that trust, to help people understand what the science tells us — that the vaccine helps reduce the risk of COVID infections.”
Biden also said he would ask Americans to mask up for the next 100 days, and that he would issue an executive order requiring masks on federal property and in federal buildings. “I’ll also be working with governors in red states and blue states and ask them to require masking up in their cities and states.”
“The more people we vaccinate and the faster we do it, the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us, building the economy back better, and get back to our lives and our loved ones,” he said.