Have you wondered about how the Biden-Harris administration managed to get so many COVID-19 “shots in arms” in such as short period of time? Were you surprised when pharmacies, stadiums, empty stores in dying malls, and pop-up vaccinations sites appeared? All of this is thanks to the Biden-Harris Covid-19 Vaccination plan.
“Fact Sheet: President-elect Biden Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plan” was posted on January 15, 2021, on what was originally the Biden-Harris Transition website. After Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States, and Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice-President of the United States, that content moved to the White House website.
The information posted by the Biden-Harris administration before Inauguration Day shows that they were thinking ahead about how to stop the spread of Covid-19. This contrasts strongly with the Trump Administration’s severe lack of planning.
Fact Sheet: President-elect Biden Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plan starts with a brief paragraph about the need for effective and equitable vaccinations. It also provides some information about the spread of COVID-19, and the number of deaths. From the Plan:
Effectively and equitably vaccinating the U.S. Population will happen through stronger partnerships with states and communities, increased supply, more vaccination sites, and more vaccinators.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is getting worse by the day – more people are hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before, the death rate is up almost 20 percent, and we’re nearing 400,000 deaths total. At the same time, there is a new, more contagious strain spreading across the country and we are woefully behind on vaccinating the U.S. population.
“President-elect Biden will confront this historic challenge with the full strength of the federal government – working closely with local communities already in the trenches. He will lead an unprecedented, whole-of-society effort that mobilizes every resource available – across the public and private sectors. It will take every American doing their part.
“As we move forward to get vaccines in arms as quickly as possible, we will not leave anyone behind. Communities across the country are counting on it. The health and economic security of our nation depend on it.
“Today, the president-elect outlined key highlights of his plan to efficiently and equitably vaccinate the U.S. population. This includes taking action to: …
The next portion of the Vaccination Plan is listed out very clearly.
Get more people vaccinated
- Encourage states to allow more people to be vaccinated including individuals 65 and older as well as frontline workers.
“The process of establishing priority groups was driven by science, but the implementation has been too rigid and confusing. We now see doses of vaccines sitting in freezers unused while people who want the vaccine cannot get it. President-elect Biden’s plan encourages states to open up eligibility beyond healthcare workers and long-term care facility workers like teachers, first responders, grocery store employees, and anyone who is 65 and older.
“It won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, as supply is not where it needs to be. But it will mean that as vaccines become available, they will reach more people who need them. For states with the capacity and supply to further expand, we encourage that as well. The federal government will continue to look to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) framework for an equitable, effective vaccination program.”
- Ensure equity throughout the vaccination process to reach those in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities.
“We will ensure that there is equity in the vaccination process by using data to target resources to hard-hit communities, ensuring no out-of-pocket costs for vaccinations, and equitable access to vaccines in marginalized and medically-underserved communities. Partnerships with state, local, and community-based organizations and trusted health care providers, like community health centers, will be central to this effort.”
Create more vaccination sites
- Stand up new, federally-supported community vaccination centers across the country.
“Getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible will require close coordination between the federal government and all states and territories. Knowing that not all states and jurisdictions have the resources to scale vaccinations at the pace this crisis demands, the Biden-Harris administration will leverage federal resources and emergency contracting authorities to launch new vaccination sites and to expand state and local efforts across the country.
“With the support of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), these sites will mobilize thousands of clinical and non-clinical staff and contractors who will work hand-in-glove with the National Guard and state and local teams. The program will be scaled based on what is working best on the ground for state and local partners, and the communities they serve.”
- Fully reimburse state deployment of the National Guard to support vaccinations and provide additional FEMA assistance.
“President-elect Biden will deploy mobile vaccination clinics in the most hard-to-reach communities and to support those who face challenges accessing vaccination sites, including individuals who live in underseved urban and rural areas. The federal government will partner with states and local providers, including primary care providers, to ensure that they have the resources needed to help get vaccines to the communities they serve.
“The federal government will launch targeted programs to engage community health centers, rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, and tribal health services to ensure that we can meet the needs of all communities.”
- Make vaccines available in pharmacies.
“Millions of Americans turn to their local pharmacies every day for their medicines, flu shots, and much more. Nearly 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy. President-elect Biden will quickly jumpstart efforts to increase capacity at chain and independent pharmacies across the country to get Americans vaccinated.”
- Launch a new partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers nationwide.
“Federally qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s) serve more than 30 million patients each year – one in 11 people nationwide. Many are people of color and many live in rural communities. FQHC patients are often individuals struggling to make ends meet.
“Given the role that these providers play in their communities, President-elect Biden will launch a new program to ensure that FQHC’s can directly access vaccine supply where needed. At the same time, the administration will encourage jurisdictions to engage and work closely with health centers in their community vaccination planning.
“And to ensure that health centers have the resources they need to successfully launch vaccination programs, President-elect Biden has called on Congress to provide additional funds to support community health centers, and HHS will launch a new program to provide guidance, technical assistance, and other resources to prepare and engage these providers nationwide.”
- Launch new models to serve high-risk individuals
“The administration will make programs available for high-risk congregate settings, including homeless shelters, jails, and institutions that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Increase supply and get it out the door as quickly as possible
- Ensure a robust vaccine supply and spur manufacturing
“To help people get vaccinated more quickly, the president-elect will maximize the manufacturer of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country, including the Defense Production Act. This effort will prioritize supplies that could cause bottlenecks, including glass vials, stoppers, syringes, needles, and the “fill and finish” capacity to package vaccines into vials”.
The Federal Emergency Management Program (FEMA) has an explanation of the Defense Production Act.
The Defense Production Act is the primary source of presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services from the U.S. industrial base needed to promote the national defense. DPA authorities are available to support: emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act; protection or restoration of critical infrastructure; and efforts to prevent, reduce vulnerability to, minimize damage from, and recover from acts of terrorism within the United States. DPA authorities may be used to:
- Require acceptance and preferential performance of contracts and orders under DPA Title I. (See Federal Priorities and Allocations System (FPAS)).
- Provide financial incentives and assistance (under DPA Title III) for U.S. industry to expand productive capacity and supply needed for national defense purposes;
- Provide antitrust protection (through DPA voluntary agreements in DPA Title VII) for businesses to cooperate in planning and operations for national defense purposes, including homeland security.
FEMA also provides information about the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, PL 100-707, signed into law November 23, 1988; amended the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, PL 93-288.
This Act constitutes the statutory authority for most Federal disaster response activities especially as they pertain to FEMA and FEMA programs.
Title IV of the Stafford Act is called “Major Disaster Assistance Programs”. Section 401 “Procedure for Declarations” provides the following explanation of this part of the Stafford Act.
“IN GENERAL – All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State. Such a request shall be based on a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary.
“As part of such request, and as a prerequisite to major disaster assistance under this Act, the Governor shall take appropriate response action under State law and direct execution of the State’s emergency plan. The Governor shall furnish information on the nature and amount of State and local resources which have been or will be committed to alleviating the results of the disaster, and shall certify that, for the current disaster, State and local government obligations and expenditures (of which State commitments must be a significant proportion) will comply with all applicable cost-sharing requirements of this Act.
“Based on the request of a Governor under this section, the President may declare under this Act that a major disaster or emergency exists.”
The Defense Production Act, and the Stafford Act, are what gives a president the power to take action in emergency situations in order to provide states with what they need to survive it. The incoming Biden-Harris administration clearly saw that the COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency.
There appears to be a potential problem, though. In order to receive emergency aid, a state’s governor would have to request it from the Biden-Harris Administration. My best guess is that the Biden-Harris administration believed that every state Governor would do so, but there was still the possibility that some state governors might decide not to accept the aid.
President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris would not be able to directly act on it until after the Inauguration and swearing in ceremonies were over. Planning ahead helped to make it possible for so many people, across the United States, to get vaccinated.
- Be a reliable partner for states by providing actionable data on vaccine allocation timelines and delivery.
“To effectively plan and scale distribution, states and localities rely on both advanced understanding of their allocations and timely delivery of their ordered doses. Under President-elect Biden’s plan, the federal government will provide regular projections of the allocations states and localities will receive.
“The federal government will build on the operational plans in place to ensure the effective distribution, storage, and transit of vaccines to states, including support for maintaining or augmenting the vaccine-specific required cold chain. The federal government will also fully leverage the Defense Production Act to fill any distribution gaps, including with respect to any needed refrigeration, transportation, or storage facilities.”
- Increase vaccine availability while maintaining a commitment to the two-dose schedule.
“President-elect Biden’s plan will release the vast majority of the vaccines when they are available, so more people an get vaccinated quickly, while still retaining a small reserve for any unforeseen shortages or delays. To continue ensuring second-dose availability on the timeline recommended by the FDA, the Biden-Harris administration will closely monitor development, production and release of vaccines, and use the DPA as needed to ensure adequate supply for second doses on the timeline recommended by the FDA.”
Mobilize more personnel to get shots in arms.
- Surge the public health workforce to support the vaccination effort.
“A diverse, community-based public health workforce is essential to an effective vaccination program. President-elect Biden will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow additional qualified professionals to administer vaccines and strongly encourage states to use their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate.
“The federal government, in partnership with states, will provide appropriate training, including thorough use of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The president-elect will also act swiftly to amend the current COVID-19 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declaration to permit certain qualified professionals, including retired medical professionals, that are not licensed under state law to administer vaccines to be able to do so with appropriate training in order to expand the number of qualified professionals able to administer the vaccine.”
The Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) “is one of the nation’s uniformed services – a branch committed to the service of health. Officers advance our nation’s public health, serving in agencies across the government, as physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, scientists, engineers, and other professionals.”
Their mission is: Protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the nation. They work at the CDC, FDA, Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense.
The Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 was placed on the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services on March 17, 2020, during the Trump Administration. It is also called the PREP Act.
The Summary of the PREP Act (at that time) stated: “The Secretary is issuing this Declaration pursuant to section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act to provide liability immunity for activities related to countermeasures against COVID-19.”
Part of the Supplementary Information included:
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) to issue a Declaration to provide liability immunity to certain individuals and entities (Covered Persons) against any claim of loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the manufacture, distribution, administration, or use of medical countermeasures (Covered Countermeasures), except for claims involving “willful misconduct” as defined in the PREP Act. This Declaration is subject to amendment as circumstances warrant.
Another part, Section IV. Limited Immunity, stated:
The Secretary must also state that liability protections available under the PREP Act are in effect with respect to the Recommended Activities. These liability protections provide that, “[s]ubject to other provisions of the [the PREP Act], a covered person shall be immune from suit and liability under federal and state law with respect to all claims for loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the administration to or use by an individual of a covered countermeasure if a Declaration has been issued with respect to the countermeasure.” In Section IV of the Declaration, the Secretary states that liability protections are in effect with respect to the Recommended Activities.
In other words, the Trump Administration decided that the best way to handle the COVID-19 pandemic was to prevent people from being able to sue “those that manufacture, distribute, administer, prescribe or use Covered Countermeasures.” It wasn’t about protecting the health of the American people at all!
On January 28, 2021, about a week after Inauguration Day, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted: “HHS Amends PREP Act Declaration to Increase Workforce Authorized to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines”. This is the amendment that President Biden mentioned in the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Plan.
The Release stated the following:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today issued a fifth amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP ACT) to add additional categories of qualified persons authorized to prescribe, dispense, and administer COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“To respond to the nationwide public health emergency caused by COVID-19, the Biden Administration is broadening use of the PREP Act to expand the vaccination workforce quickly with additional qualified healthcare professionals,” said HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran. “As vaccine supply is made more widely available over the coming months, having additional vaccinators at the ready will help providers and state health departments meet the demand for vaccine and protect their communities more quickly.”
Among other things, the amendment:
- Authorizes any healthcare provider who is licensed or certified in a state to prescribe, dispense, and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines in any other state or U.S. territory.
- Authorizes any physician, registered nurse, or practical nurse whose license or certification expired within the past five years to prescribe, dispense, and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines in any state or U.S. territory so long as the license or certification was active and in good standing prior to the date it went inactive.
- Requires any healthcare professional described above to complete Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccine Training and, for healthcare providers who are not currently practicing or whose license or certification is expired, requires an on-site observation period by a currently practicing healthcare professional.
“Under the PREP Act and the Declaration, a qualified person is a covered person. Subject to certain limitations, a covered person is immune from suit and liability under federal and state law with respect to all claims for loss resulting from the administration or use of a covered countermeasure if a declaration under the PREP Act has been issued with respect to such countermeasures.”
As you can see, the Biden-Harris administration does include protection for health care practitioners who administer COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the manufactures of the vaccines, from being sued by a person who was harmed from it. The Trump-Pence administration made that the entire focus of the PREP Act. The Biden-Harris administration’s amendment makes it clear that the most important thing is to make it possible for more people to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine. It puts people first – not corporations.
- Mobilize a public health jobs program to support COVID-19 response.
“President-elect Biden has asked Congress to make an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce, funding 100,000 public health workers to nearly triple the country’s community health roles. These individuals will be hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.”
Ensure the American people have the information and confidence they need to get vaccinated.
- Launch a federally led, locally focused public education campaign.
“The federal government will build public trust through increased transparency, communication around progress and setbacks, and a public education campaign that addresses vaccine hesitancy and is tailored to meet the needs of local communities. The campaign will work to elevate trusted local voices and outline the historic efforts to deliver a safe and effective vaccine as part of a national strategy for beating COVID-19.”
The Biden-Harris COVID-19 Vaccination Plan worked! The White House COVID-19 Response Team posted regular updates about how many people have received a COVID-19 vaccination.
On January 27, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse tweeted: “The President set an ambitious goal of administering 100 million shots in our first 100 days. To get there, we’ve got to average about a million shots per day. Just one week in, our trajectory is good and we are all well on our way to hitting that goal.”
The tweet includes the following graphic:
The graphic says: 7,000,000 Vaccine Doses Administered Since January 20, 2021. Below it are a series of dots where each dot equals 10,000 vaccine doses.
On February 3, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse replied to its previous tweet with a new tweet: “Since last week’s update, we’ve administered another 9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The steps we’ve taken to increase supply & work directly with states to change the course of the pandemic make a difference in our goal to get 100 million shots in the first 100 days.”
The tweet included the following graphic:
The graphic says: 16,000,000 Vaccine Doses Administered Since January 20, 2021. Below it is a series of dots. The black dots are toward the bottom Each black dot equals 10,000 doses. A grouping of blue dots each equal 10,000 doses. All the blue dots equal new vaccine doses since January 27th, 2021.
On February 10, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse tweeted: “We’ve been making steady progress over the past few weeks — getting more vaccine supply, getting more vaccinators on the ground, and creating more places to get vaccinated. We’re on track to meet our goal of delivering 100 million shots in our first 100 days in office.”
The tweet included the following graphic:
The graphic says: 26,000,000 Vaccine Doses Administered Since January 20, 2021. Below it is a series of dots. This time, the black dots are located starting at the left-hand side of the image. The black dots rise to the line of dots third from the top, and decrease in stair steps from there. Each black dot equal 10,000 vaccine doses.
There is also a bunch of blue dots that start out on top of the black dots. The blue dots also decrease in stair steps on the right hand side. Each blue dot equals 10,000 vaccine doses, and new vaccine doses since February 3rd, 2021.
On February 17, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse tweeted: “27 days ago, the President launched his comprehensive national strategy to beat this pandemic. We are working every day to execute that strategy and seeing results.”
The tweet included the following graphic:
The graphic says: 38,000,000 Vaccine Doses Administered Since January 20, 2021. Below it is a series of dots. The black dots start at the bottom of the graphic and continue up to the ninth line from the bottom. The black dots recede in stair steps as they get closer to the left-hand side of the graphic.
There are blue dots on top of the black dots. They fill the top nine lines of the graphic, and recede in stair steps on the left-hand side of the graphic. The blue dots fill in gaps left by the black dots stair steps.
Each black dot equals 10,000 vaccine doses. Each blue dot equals 10,000 vaccine doses. All the blue dots equal new vaccine doses since February 10, 2021.
On February 26, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse tweeted: “In just five weeks, we’ve administered more shots than any other country, with among the highest percentage of the population fully vaccinated. That progress is because we’re working around the clock to increase vaccine supply, places to get vaccinated, and vaccinators.”
The tweet contained a very large graphic:
At the top of this graphic, there are a multitude of tiny blue dots. A bracket holds them up. The bracket leads to text that says “For context, 10,000 vaccination doses looks like this”.
A line leads down to a circle that has one blue dot at the top of it. The circle has text that says “Just one of these dots holds 10,000 vaccination doses”. A line leads down from the circle into a rectangle that has a lot of black dots at the bottom. This time, they stair step as they reach the right hand side. Each black dot is equal to 10,000 vaccine doses.
On top of the black dots are many blue dots. They fill in the stair step where the black dots left off, and continue to the top part of the rectangle that all of these dots are in. Each blue dot equals 10,000 vaccine doses. All of the blue dots together equal new vaccine doses since February 17, 2021.
There is larger text in the middle of the graphic that says: 50,000,000 Vaccine Doses Administered Since January 20, 2021.
On March 12, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse tweeted: “Last night the President said that we’re on track to reach his goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days weeks ahead of schedule. While there’s still so much more work to do, this by-the-numbers breakdown of our COVID-19 response outlines how far we’ve come.”
The tweet included the following graphic:
The top of this graphic says: “An Update On The Biden-Harris COVID-19 Response”. There are no dots on this graphic. Under the heading, it says: “81M Shots Since January 20, 2021.” Drawings of eight syringes are in a line next to it.
There is a line under that part. Below it, there is text that says “More than 70% of 75 Year Olds have their first dose”. Next to that is a drawing of a bottle of vaccine with a yellow label. Below that, there is text that says “More than 60% of 65 Year Olds have their first dose.” Next to that is another bottle of vaccine with a yellow label.
Off to the side, there is a drawing of a small calendar. The calendar says: “2.2M per day” and there is an arrow pointing away from it, across the calendar page. Below the calendar it says: “7-Day Average of 2.2 Million Vaccinations Per Day.”
On March 19, 2021, @WHCOVIDResponse tweeted: “Before President Biden took office, he set a goal of administering 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in his first 100 days, which meant increasing vaccine supply and then turning vaccines into vaccinations. Today, on his 58th day in office, we have reached that goal.”
The tweet included the following graphic:
The top of this graphic says: “100,000,000 Vaccine Doses Administered Since January 20, 2021.” Underneath that it shows that each black dot equals 25,000 vaccine doses. It also says each blue dot equals 25,000 doses. There is another blue dot next to text that says “New vaccine doses since March 10th.”
Below the text, there are about eight lines of blue dots, stair stepping down as they reach the right hand side of the graphic. Below them are a multitude of black dots, slightly stepping up as they reach the right hand side of the graphic.
After reaching this goal, President Biden decided to double the goal and attempt to reach 200 million vaccine shots administered in his first 100 days in office. I really like the transparency that the Biden-Harris administration is providing people in regards to the effort to protect people from COVID-19.
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