WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials said they will deploy 1,000 active duty troops to assist with Covid-19 vaccinations later this month and use the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of vaccine, tests and protective equipment.
The military personnel will begin arriving in California within the next 10 days and assist at state vaccination sites there, said Covid-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients. The Pentagon is still weighing a broader request from FEMA for up to 10,000 troops, a U.S. military officer said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the decision, which will involve units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and include nurses and medical staff who will be administering the vaccinations, the officer said.
“The military’s critical role in supporting sites will help vaccinate thousands of people per day, and ensure that every American who wants a vaccine will receive one,” said Zients.
The increased involvement of the Defense Department is a shift in strategy from the Trump administration, which primarily left it to the states to figure out how to get shots in the arms of their residents.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced it would begin opening the two federally run and funded vaccination sites in California.
The Biden administration also announced it will be using the Defense Production Act to get Pfizer more equipment and supplies to increase production of its vaccine, make millions of at home Covid tests available by the end of the summer, and produce 1 billion surgical gloves a month in the U.S. by the end of the year.