In a speech from Wilmington, Del., Biden laid out an ambitious plan to dramatically increase the number of coronavirus vaccines administered after he takes office, as covid-19 cases and deaths hit record highs across the country. Chief among his goals was to administer 100 million vaccine shots within his first 100 days in office.
“This is a time to set big goals, to pursue them with courage and conviction, because the health of the nation is literally at stake,” Biden said Friday.
Biden said that on his first day in office, he would instruct FEMA to begin setting up federally supported community vaccination centers in places like school gymnasiums, sports centers and community centers.
His administration would also use pharmacies and mobile vaccination clinics, as well as push for vaccination programs in high-risk settings like homeless shelters, jails and centers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Biden criticized the Trump administration’s strategy of holding back nearly half of the available vaccines and said the current rollout had been “too rigid and confusing.”
“If you were to ask most people today, they couldn’t tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated,” he said. Meanwhile, he added, tens of millions of vials of vaccines were sitting unused in refrigerators.
Biden also said his administration plans to fully reimburse states for the use of the National Guard for vaccine distribution, and would launch a “massive public education campaign” to counter vaccine hesitancy and disinformation, particularly among communities that have been hardest hit by the virus.
“It’s a critical piece to account for a tragic reality on the disproportionate impact this virus has had on Black, Latino and Native American people,” Biden said.
As he had for months, Biden pleaded with the public to continue wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing. He blasted how the act of mask-wearing had become politicized and said he would issue an executive order to require masks in his first 100 days of office where he had the authority to do so — namely federal buildings and on airplanes and trains.
“The more people we vaccinate and the faster we do it, the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us and the sooner we can build our economy back better and get back to our lives and to our loved ones,” Biden said.
“As we’ve seen during this pandemic, we can’t solve our problems as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is if we come through together,” he said.