Biden announces national vaccine website, expanded vaccination eligibility, and more

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On Thursday night, the president delivered a sweeping prime-time address about upcoming efforts to combat COVID-19 and hinted at a semblance of normalcy by July 4.

Image: iStock/halfpoint

On Thursday, March 11, President Joe Biden held his first prime-time address as U.S. commander-in-chief hours after signing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Biden used this time to deliver a sweeping address covering a wide range of topics related to the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming weeks, the administration plans to expand inoculation efforts, launch a new COVID-19 vaccination website and more.

A White House news release outlined the “next phase” of the administration’s “war-time effort to vaccinate the U.S. population” and included a stated “goal of getting the nation closer to normal” by July 4; the U.S. Independence Day holiday. On Thursday, Biden said every U.S. adult will be eligible for vaccination “no later than May 1,” according to the release. 

“Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot,” Biden said.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

After all U.S. adults are eligible, the administration said it will take measures to “ensure that every adult is actually able to get the vaccine” and this includes increasing vaccination sites and “reaching the hardest-hit and hardest to reach populations.”

The administration also said it will deliver vaccines to “up to an additional 700 community health centers,” and the total number of pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program would be doubled.

Additionally, federally-operated mass-vaccination centers will be more than doubled and “many of these sites” will serve as a “home base” for mobile units designed to provide vaccine access to “underserved populations,” according to the release. Due to these additional investments, the White House said community vaccination centers will be able to administer “hundreds of thousands of shots” per diem.

By May 1, the administration said it will launch a federally supported “Find a Vaccination Website” to help eligible adults locate vaccines in their communities, open a 1-800 number call center to provide guidance to people who are without internet access and provide support to enhance existing state vaccination websites.

“IT is a critical enabler of mass vaccination. It might seem obvious that business and government leaders must have IT at the table when planning the largest technology challenge of our time – the massive scale up of vaccine delivery to all Americans,” said Donna Medeiros, senior research director at Gartner.

SEE: The future of business travel: Digital nomads and “bleisure” define the new high-tech take on work trips (TechRepublic)

The White House said it would provide guidelines for vaccinated Americans and vaccination benefits via the CDC to “encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.” Thursday’s announcement included information related to safely reopening classrooms, increased testing at schools, helping educators access vaccines and increased genomic sequencing to monitor variants and more.

Biden also said the administration would expand “the pool of qualified professionals able to administer shots” including dentists, midwives, paramedics, optometrists and veterinarians.

“If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” Biden said.

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