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The new CDC director gave an overview of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy on Thursday.
Speaking on the “Today” show, CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said the administration is determined to meet its promise of 100 vaccinations in 100 million doses in 100 days but probably won’t be able to stick to an ambitious vaccine timeline set by the previous administration.
The Biden administration wants to find more locations where people can be vaccinated, such as stadiums and gymnasiums, and more people to administer the vaccine, she said.
“We recognize this as the most immediate emergency to get this country back to health,” she said. “We need to make sure…that we have commissioned health corps, medical military, retirees, medical students and nursing students just about to graduate, dentists and veterinarians in order to be out there to vaccinate the public.”
In most states, the vaccine is now being given to healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and people over 65, as recommended by the CDC.
Walensky said she does not think the vaccine will be available to the general public by late February or early March, as Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services director in the Trump administration, had predicted last month.
“We are going to, as part of our plan, put the vaccine in pharmacies,” she said. “Will it be in every pharmacy in the country by that timeline? I don’t think so. I don’t think late
February we’re going to have vaccine in every pharmacy in this country.”
“We said 100 million doses in the first 100 days, and we’re going to stick to that plan, but also want to be very cognizant of the fact that after 100 days, there are still a lot of Americans who need vaccine, so we have our pedal to the metal to make sure we can get as much vaccine out there,” Walensky said.
The CDC website says about 35.9 million doses of vaccine have been delivered and about 16.5 doses administered.
Walensky said the vaccine rollout will aim to overcome “vaccine hesitancy.”
“Some people just really need it to be convenient,” she said. “Some people need to have permission to take the time to get the vaccine or enough leeway to be able to take the day off if they’re feeling unwell the next day. Some of it is they just want to see how it’s going to go. Some of it is education…and we need to bring that science to them by their trusted people.”
Today. “New CDC director: COVID-19 vaccine for general population not likely by March”