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Pentagon to deploy troops to help COVID-19 vaccine drives

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One of many 5 new navy groups will go to a vaccination heart opening in California. Different facilities are anticipated to be introduced quickly.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will deploy greater than 1,100 troops to 5 vaccination facilities in what would be the first wave of elevated navy assist for the White Home marketing campaign to get extra Individuals inoculated towards COVID-19.

President Joe Biden has known as for establishing 100 mass vaccination facilities across the nation inside a month. One of many 5 new navy groups will go to a vaccination heart opening in California. Different facilities are anticipated to be introduced quickly.

The Federal Emergency Administration Company has requested the Pentagon to provide as many as 10,000 service members to workers 100 facilities. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin permitted the preliminary 5 groups, however the others can be permitted in separate tranches as FEMA identifies the opposite web site places.

Appearing FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton instructed reporters that two vaccination websites that can be “predominantly” federally run will open in California on Feb. 16, one at California State College, Los Angeles, and the opposite in Oakland.

Army troops will workers one of many two California facilities, FEMA and Pentagon officers mentioned. Personnel from different components of the federal authorities can be on the different one. Extra websites will open across the nation as extra doses of vaccine turn into out there.

The navy deployment comes because the nation is in a race towards a virus that’s spawning mutations which can make it unfold extra simply and inflict deadlier illness.

Solely about 2% of Individuals have obtained the required two-dose vaccination routine that confers optimum safety with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines presently out there. To achieve widespread, or “herd” immunity, the U.S. should vaccinate 70% to 85% of its inhabitants, based on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s high infectious illness knowledgeable.

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That will be roughly 230 million to 280 million folks, in comparison with 6.9 million who’re presently totally immunized with two pictures.

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Extra assist may very well be on the best way quickly. Johnson & Johnson introduced this week it’s in search of emergency use authorization from the Meals and Drug Administration for its vaccine, which requires just one shot.

Every of the Pentagon’s 5 navy groups consists of 222 personnel, together with 80 who will give the vaccines, in addition to nurses and different assist workers. The groups would be capable to present about 6,000 pictures a day.

The 5 groups symbolize a rising use of the energetic obligation navy to a vaccination marketing campaign that already includes almost 100 Nationwide Guard groups in 29 states throughout the nation. Nationwide Guard leaders instructed The Related Press that they’re now contemplating coaching further Guard members to present pictures, in order that they will additionally increase vaccinations in additional distant and rural parts of their states.

Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the Nationwide Guard Bureau, mentioned the Guard has the flexibility to subject about 200 further groups. Coaching different medical personnel to present the vaccination pictures, he mentioned, would doubtlessly present extra.

“If we attain the purpose the place we’ve totally carried out all of our people who can (give pictures), then they’re taking a look at potential coaching alternatives if we’re going to wish greater than that,” mentioned Hokanson. “We’re going to do the whole lot to make a distinction and meet no matter that want is.”

The Pentagon has mentioned that the FEMA groups may very well be a mixture of energetic obligation, Nationwide Guard and Reserves. However Hokanson and Maj. Gen. Jerry Fenwick, director of the Guard’s Workplace of the Joint Surgeon, mentioned that at this level, the FEMA groups are extra possible going to be stuffed largely by energetic obligation troops. The Guard, they mentioned, will most likely be tapped by their governors to be used in their very own states. are extra possible for use in distant, rural places.

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Guard leaders mentioned the near 100 cell vaccination groups already energetic are delivering greater than 50,000 pictures a day.

“As extra vaccines come on line, there’s certainly going to be extra demand for vaccinators,” mentioned Fenwick.

Pentagon officers have made it clear that they’re being cautious about tapping Nationwide Guard and Reserves, as a result of in lots of circumstances these service members are already working in medical jobs of their civilian lives at native hospitals and medical facilities. Hokanson famous that whereas the Guard might workers as many as 600 vaccine groups, he has to chop that quantity about in half due to these kinds of civilian job restrictions.

He mentioned that up to now Guard members are solely working in their very own states, however might go to neighboring states if wanted sooner or later, so long as they’ve sufficient groups.

Biden has in contrast the marketing campaign towards COVID-19 to a struggle. Alongside the troop deployment, he additionally invoked a Chilly Struggle-era legislation known as the Protection Manufacturing Act to assist bolster manufacturing of vaccines, at-home COVID-19 testing kits and nitrile gloves utilized by well being care employees and vaccinators. Known as the DPA, the legislation in essence permits the federal government to assign missions to personal firms throughout nationwide emergencies.

Tim Manning, the White Home’s COVID-19 provide coordinator, mentioned Friday the administration was trying to assist drugmaker Pfizer clear a bottleneck round fill-and-finish capabilities with vaccine manufacturing by giving the drugmaker first precedence to entry wanted provides.

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Manning mentioned additionally mentioned the federal government is investing in six producers to develop at-home and point-of-care COVID-19 exams, with the aim of manufacturing 60 million exams by the top of the summer time. Earlier within the week, the White Home introduced a $230 million contract with Ellume, producer of an at-home check permitted by the Meals and Drug Administration. No prescription is required for the over-the-counter check.

“The nation is properly behind the place we must be in testing,” mentioned Manning. As a result of contract points, he mentioned he couldn’t but reveal the names of the businesses.

One other spherical of contracts will construct capability to supply surgical gloves within the U.S., together with processing the uncooked supplies for the gloves. There have been widespread shortages firstly of the pandemic final yr.

Manning mentioned the aim is to supply greater than 1 billion nitrile gloves domestically by the top of this yr.

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