Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has so far approved a total of 25 teams of active troops in supportVaccination efforts. The move is at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday that Austin had authorized 20 additional teams, bringing the total toor prepare to assist FEMA in the vaccination effort more than 4,700.
The first five teams were announced last week, and the first tranche of 222 employees is on-site at what FEMA calls a “mega-location” at California State University in Los Angeles to begin operations this week.
Ten of the new teams will have 222 people supporting mega-locations, while the other 10 will have 139 people supporting smaller locations.
A defense official told newsdos that a team of 25 active troops had been dispatched to Patterson, New Jersey on Monday to administer COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of Defense is also preparing an additional 25-strong team of active military personnel for future deployments in New Jersey at vaccination sites in Trenton, Vineland and Elizabeth.
Kirby did not have any additional details on which vaccination sites the troops will travel to to support them or where the troops will be coming from.
“We try to be ready when we are needed,” said Kirby. He added that the division can begin with the announcement to ensure that staff are properly trained and resourced and that their commandos have time to prepare for their departure.
FEMA has requested assistance for 100 vaccination sites, with deployments likely to exceed the estimated 10,000 active troops originally requested by federal agencies.
In the meantime, FEMA is looking for offers to hire trained vaccines to aid in the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. The agency plans to sign thousands of medical staff by mid-March, according to a statement released on Friday. Contract personnel will provide vaccines to a number of medical facilities, including community hospitals, government-administered centers, and government-run immunization centers. A FEMA official confirmed to newsdos that a draft statement stated that federal contracts were valued at approximately $ 3 billion.
FEMA has allocated more than $ 3.22 billion to states, tribes, territories, and Washington DC for expenses related to COVID-19 vaccination. The government agency has already deployed nearly 2,000 people across the country to support existing vaccination centers.
According to FEMA, the National Guard Bureau has dispatched 1,201 vaccines to 385 immunization centers in 43 states and territories, with 351 interagency vaccines dispatched to Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas.
But cities and federal states are calling on the federal government to deliver more vaccines. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Wednesday that five of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination sites – including Dodger Stadium – will be closed on Friday and Saturday due to insufficient supplies.
“We’re vaccinating people faster than new bottles arrive here in Los Angeles,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday evening. “And I’m very concerned right now. As your Mayor, I am concerned that our vaccine supply is uneven, unpredictable and, too often, unfair.”
The demand for vaccines is expected to exceed supply “for the foreseeable future”, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced on Thursday.
During a news conference Thursday, Hogan said Maryland is not getting enough supplies to vaccinate the more than 2 million Marylanders – including seniors – who are eligible for doses.
“You can’t make an appointment for a vaccine that doesn’t already exist,” Hogan said. “The basic problem is pretty simple: we need more damn vaccines.”
In Alabama, which currently ranks last in the United States for per capita vaccinations, all vaccination sites are now booked through April.
the much-needed boost in vaccine supplies during a tour of the laboratories of the National Institutes of Health Thursday.
“It really turned out to be a gigantic logistical problem for us,” Biden said, targeting the Trump administration. “My predecessor – I’ll be very open about it – didn’t do his job to prepare for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions.”
David Martin contributed to this report.