ZPodium Forums Biden to double pharmacy vaccination sites, promise doses for most Americans by mid-April

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    “It’s a big country, and as fast as we are going, we still have a long way to go to finish this vaccination effort,” the president said in a speech. “But being at 90-90 just three weeks from today should give hope to the country.”

    He added that a “new record” of 30 million coronavirus vaccine doses were allotted to states this week. By comparison, just over 23 million were available the week of Mar. 19.

    The emphasis on pharmacies comes as their collective doses administered has far outpaced mass vaccination sites the administration has set up across the country, POLITICO reported Monday morning.

    Nearly 40,000 pharmacies across the country will be on board to deliver vaccine doses compared to 17,000 earlier. There are 21 pharmacy chains in the government’s vaccination program. The administration will also expand its program for mass vaccination sites, adding 12 more to the 21 existing hubs.

    The White House announced Biden’s push to expand vaccine access hours after top federal health officials issued dire warnings that new cases are once again on the rise — and that it is too early in the vaccination push to relax social distancing and safety guidelines.

    “Right now I’m scared,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing Monday.

    “It will be a race between a vaccine and what’s going on with the dynamics of the outbreak,” White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said during the same briefing.

    Biden himself pleaded with states to pause reopening efforts and reinstate mask mandates, his most direct call yet to governors. The president called mask wearing a “patriotic duty” because despite progress on vaccinations, “cases are rising and the virus is spreading in too many places still.”

    The government has already shipped millions of doses to the 21 mass vaccination sites established around the country as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency program to establish hubs in different areas. The sites administered 67,000 shots a day in recent weeks, according to a series of internal FEMA briefing documents and data sets obtained by POLITICO. But federal data shows that the retail pharmacy program rather than the mass sites strategy could reach many Americans faster, four people familiar said.

    “A lot of pharmacies are sitting with waitlist of patients that they’re now going to be able to fulfill,” said Kurt Proctor, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association. “Some states have engaged pharmacies and then pulled back from that to mass events or hospitalized kinds of approaches. I hope that states recognize what the Biden administration is recognizing.”

    The White House said in a statement with Biden’s announcement that the mass vaccination sites will be able to administer about 79,000 shots a day once they are at full capacity.

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