Feds working to set up nationwide network of COVID-19 vaccination sites

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The federal government is working to set up community coronavirus vaccination sites across the country, White House Coronavirus Task Force Director Jeff Zients said Wednesday, calling the inoculation push “one of the greatest operational challenges” in American history.

“These centers are helping to provide new, more efficient places for people to get vaccinated,” said Zients, speaking during a virtual briefing on the nation’s pandemic response.

“The Department of Defense will dedicate substantial personnel and resources to help manage many of these new sites,” continued Zients. “You’ll see big centers in stadiums, sites in school gyms and community centers, mobile units in rural areas and outer bureaus, pop-up sites in parking lots and other locations.”

Zients particularly detailed a new partnership with hard-hit California to bring two large-scale vaccination centers to the campus of California State University in Los Angeles, and at Oakland Coliseum, the cavernous home of the Oakland A’s baseball team.

“These sites in California are just the beginning,” said Zients, teasing more details in the weeks ahead.

Additionally, Zients said that the feds, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are helping to provide financial and staffing support to existing community distribution sites nationwide.

“As of today, FEMA has provided more than $1.7 billion to 27 states, localities, tribes and territories,” he said. “This funding covers critical steps in the vaccination process, including transportation and storage equipment, supplies needed to administer vaccines and safety equipment, like PPE and masks.”

FEMA has also assigned over 600 staff to the effort — 350 directly to community vaccination sites — joining “thousands of National Guard members who are providing support to sites in 39 states,” Zients said.

“This will not be easy,” he went on to say of the overall inoculation effort. “Vaccinating everyone in America is one of the greatest operational challenges we’ve ever faced, and we will not stop working until this mission is complete.”

On Tuesday, the feds announced a five-percent increase in the weekly vaccine allocation to states, tribes and territories, plus a partnership to get doses into thousands of pharmacies nationwide.

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