Biden administration continues vaccination push with five new mass vaccination sites in Texas and New York
Three new major community vaccination centers will open in the cities of Dallas, Arlington and Houston in Texas, Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced Wednesday.
Together, these sites will be capable of administering more than 10,000 Covid-19 vaccine shots each day, Zients said, and will start vaccinations beginning the week of February 22.
The community vaccination sites will be located at NRG Stadium in Houston, AT&T Stadium in Arlington and Fair Park in Dallas, according to Zients. The White House is immediately deploying federal teams to work with state and local officials, he said.
Later on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced a federal partnership to open two new mass vaccination sites in Queens and Brooklyn.
Both vaccination sites -- one at York College in Jamaica, Queens, and the other in Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn -- will administer approximately 3,000 vaccinations per day. These sites will open the same week the Texas sites open.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration attempts to ramp up production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines amid a pandemic that continues to devastate the nation. Both announcements emphasized a focus on distributing the vaccination equitably across the nation and focusing on underserved and vulnerable populations.
"They are going to get, address a dramatic need in bringing the vaccine to the people who need the vaccine most," Cuomo said of the new vaccination sites.
The Biden administration said last week the federal government would partner with California to launch two new community vaccination centers in communities that have been hard-hit by the pandemic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is setting up two vaccination sites in Oakland and east Los Angeles that will open next Tuesday, acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said.
"We're creating more places where Americans can get vaccinated," Zients said in a briefing on Wednesday. "To do so, we've expedited financial support to bolster community vaccination centers nationwide with over three billion dollars in federal funding across 35 states, tribes and territories."
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday participated in a virtual tour of State Farm Stadium, which is one of Arizona's largest mass-vaccination sites. The site injects "350 to 400 vaccines per hour," and has managed nearly 170,000 vaccines since opening so far, according to Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to Biden offering the use of every team stadium as a mass vaccination site. Biden told CBS in an interview that aired Sunday he intended to take Goodell up on his offer.
In addition to stadiums, Zients said the administration was building new vaccination centers across the nation "from the ground up" in community centers, school gyms and parking lots.
The White House also announced this week that it would increase overall weekly vaccine supply to 11 million doses nationwide beginning this week. After announcing a plan to send vaccines directly to retail pharmacies, the White House said it would send some of the Covid-19 vaccine supply directly to community health centers starting next week as part of an effort to reach underserved areas.
"We're putting equity front and center, partnering with states to increase vaccinations in the hardest-hit and hardest-to-reach communities," Zients said Wednesday, reiterating the administration's focus on equity.
There are two Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration: one by Pfizer/BioNTech, and the other by Moderna. Both require two doses administered several weeks apart in order to reach nearly 95% efficacy.
If the FDA authorizes a vaccine by Johnson & Johnson for emergency use, it is expected to have fewer than 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses available, a federal health official confirms.
CNN first reported this would be the amount of vaccine available upon authorization on February 1.
The official said the number of doses available would be in the single-digit millions if it's authorized in the coming weeks That number would increase to double digit millions in March, but still fewer than 20 million doses. They expect it to ramp up to 20 or 30 million doses by April.
Johnson & Johnson's single-shot Covid-19 vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease, the company announced Friday. The vaccine was 72% effective against moderate and severe disease in the US.
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