Public service workers help people to check in at a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site in Robstown, Texas, February 9, 2021.
Go Nakamura | Reuters
The Biden administration will partner with Texas officials to build three new community vaccination centers, in Dallas, Arlington and Houston, a member of President Joe Biden‘s Covid-19 response team announced Wednesday.
The three centers, which will be operational the week of Feb. 22, will allow health-care providers to administer a total of more than 10,000 shots per day, Jeff Zients, Biden’s Covid czar, told reporters during a White House news briefing on the pandemic. “We are deploying teams immediately to work hand in hand with the state and local jurisdiction,” he said.
Zients also said later Wednesday that he will join New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press briefing to formally announce the development of two new Covid vaccine centers in that state to help distribute shots to “underserved communities.”
The announcements come days after the administration said it was sending active-duty troops to California to help staff Covid-19 vaccine sites there. Biden is trying to pick up the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. after a slower-than-expected rollout under former President Donald Trump’s administration, and federal officials are also pushing states to administer shots more quickly.
The troops will arrive in California this week and begin operations by Monday, U.S. officials said.
Roughly 33 million out of some 331 million Americans have received at least their first dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccines, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 9.8 million of those people have already gotten their second shot.
U.S. officials are also hoping vaccine supply will increase after Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, which could happen as early as this month. The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Feb. 26 to discuss the vaccine, and the U.S. could authorize the vaccine the next day.
Last week, Andy Slavitt, a senior advisor to Biden’s Covid-19 response team, said some health-care providers were regularly holding back vaccines for second shots, causing vaccine appointments to be canceled and preventing some Americans from receiving their first doses.
“We want to be clear that we understand why health-care providers have done that but that it does not need to happen and should not happen,” he told reporters on Feb. 1, adding that U.S. officials know Covid vaccine shipments to states were often unpredictable during the early rollout in late December.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that many states are already moving past vaccinating just health-care providers, nursing homes and the elderly and are beginning to open up shots to people with underlying health conditions.
He urged people with those conditions to get vaccinated, saying they are more vulnerable to severe Covid-19. “They are the very people who should get vaccinated,” he added. “This is something that will be very beneficial to you.”
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