Biden plans for $20 billion mass vaccination campaign
President-elect Joe Biden will unveil a $415 billion plan to fight the coronavirus Thursday, including $20 billion for vaccines, drawing a sharp contrast to the fragmented approach from the Trump administration.
Biden will unveil the package in an address Thursday evening, part of a two-day rollout of his virus response strategy.
The plan comes as Biden has criticized the Trump administration for the slow rollout of coronavirus vaccines, and falling far short of its ambitious goal of getting shots in the arms of 20 million people by the end of 2020.
In contrast to Trump, Biden’s plan emphasizes a bolstered federal response, rather than leaving key details to the states.
“The states are scrambling. There was really no plan to get needles in arms. And there’s been very little coordination, so we’re going to do just the opposite,” a senior transition official said.
“I think it’s clear that what we’re inheriting from the Trump administration is much worse than we could have imagined. There’s no existing infrastructure for vaccinations,” the official added.
Biden’s plan will include launching community vaccination centers around the country, and deploying mobile vaccination units in rural, hard-to-reach areas.
“In short, we don’t have enough places for people to get vaccinated, we don’t have enough people performing vaccinations, and we’re not getting enough needles in arms,” an official told reporters Thursday in advance of Biden’s address.
States have warned for months that they lack the funding to carry out the type of mass vaccination campaign necessary to achieve herd immunity against the virus.
Congress appropriated $8.7 billion for state vaccinations in the most recent economic relief package, but all the money has not yet arrived to help struggling health departments.
Biden has vowed to get 100 million people inoculated in the administration’s first 100 days, and his plan will rely on using mass vaccination sites, like churches, libraries and community centers.
The U.S. is finally approaching vaccinating 1 million people a day, but that pace will need to continue in order to meet Biden’s goal.
Biden will also call for a “public health jobs program” that would nearly triple the country’s community health roles.
The proposal would fund 100,000 public health workers who could “perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term” and transition into community health roles “that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities,” the transition team said.