FEMA asks Pentagon for help administering COVID-19 vaccines

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has asked the Pentagon to assist with President Biden’s goal to vaccinate 100 million people against the coronavirus in his first 100 days in office, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) top spokesman said Thursday.

“The Department of Defense has received a request from FEMA for assistance in administering COVID-19 vaccine at various locations across the country. The Department is evaluating the request, and what kinds of support it can provide,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Kirby said that given the significance of the request, “it will be reviewed urgently but carefully” to determine what military assets can be made available to help safely.

“As [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] has said, DOD is committed to do as much as it possibly can to assist the whole-of-government effort against COVID-19.”

CNN was the first to report on the discussions between the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, of which FEMA is a part, on how the military can assist the agency.

Among the possible solutions is sending up to 10,000 active-duty and National Guard forces to so-called vaccination megahubs.

President Biden has an ambitious goal of the United States vaccinating 1.5 million people per day in the coming weeks, he announced Monday.

“It’s going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country, but I think we can do that,” Biden said during a press conference.

But the White House has moved to temper expectations, with press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday clarifying that Biden was merely being optimistic and that he was not setting a concrete goal. 

White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt on Wednesday said that it will be “months” before all Americans who want a coronavirus vaccine can get one.

Tags Coronavirus Coronavirus response coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 Jen Psaki John Kirby Lloyd Austin
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