President Joe Biden on Thursday said he will expand the number of people providing COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States to include a wide swath of medical professionals in order to help the nation return to some sense of normalcy by July 4.
In his first prime-time address, Biden said dentists, EMTs, midwives, optometrists, physician assistants, podiatrists, respiratory therapists, and veterinarians will become qualified to administer the three federally authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
The US Department of Health and Human Services will soon launch a website to allow these clinicians to sign up to administer shots.
The list of eligible vaccinators will also include medical and nursing students, the president said.
Biden touted the recently announced partnership of Merck and Johnson & Johnson – typically competitors in the pharma space — to allow Merck to manufacture millions of doses of the J&J one-shot vaccine.
“These two companies, competitors, have come together for the good of the nation,” Biden said. “And they should be applauded for it.”
The president reiterated that the US will have enough vaccine doses for all adults to be eligible for the vaccine no later than May 1 and vaccinated by the end of May. To help make that happen, he said, “we’re calling active duty military, FEMA, retired doctors, and nurses and administrators” to help make that happen.
“A year ago we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked,” Biden said on the day he signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. “While it was different for everyone, we all lost something. A collective something, a collective sacrifice.”
The toll has been terrible, he said.
“Frontline and essential workers risking their lives and sometimes losing them to rescue others,” Biden said. “Researchers and scientists racing to find a vaccine. And so many of you, as [Ernest] Hemingway wrote, ‘being strong in all the broken places.’ ”
That should soon change, he said.
“We know what we need to do to beat this virus. Tell the truth, follow the science, work together,” he said.
The big goal, Biden said, is to safely allow small gatherings by July 4.
“I promise I will do everything in my power — I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people. I need you,” he said. “I need every American to do their part. I need you to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and you can find an opportunity. I need you to help your family and neighbors.
“If we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your family and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or park and celebrate Independence Day.”
He was careful to mention that he’s not promising large group gatherings, “but small groups.”
“That will make this Independence Day truly something special,” Biden said.
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