The Biden administration is launching a critical six-week push to ramp up Covid-19 booster vaccinations of Americans as the holiday season approaches.
“With winter and holiday gatherings around the corner, more Americans getting their updated vaccine will help prevent thousands of preventable Covid-19 deaths. The six-week campaign will aim to reach seniors and communities hardest hit by Covid-19 by facilitating vaccination and increasing awareness through paid media,” said a fact sheet shared first with CNN.
Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, kicks off the campaign during Tuesday’s White House press briefing, which will likely be his last appearance from the briefing room podium before his scheduled retirement in December. Fauci, who served under seven US presidents and became a household name at the start of the pandemic, will detail the urgency of getting vaccinated as public health officials expressed concern over the confluence of Covid-19, RSV and influenza this season.
The push comes as more than 35 million Americans have already received the updated bivalent booster, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. But that’s a fraction of eligible Americans — 267 million Americans received their first Covid-19 vaccine, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the efforts to be announced on Tuesday is a plan by the Department of Health and Human Services to bolster all 70,000 existing sites, “including mobile settings and sites in rural and remote areas,” as well as ” pop-up vaccination clinics and educational booths at large community gatherings,” the fact sheet states.
HHS is also launching a public education campaign with television and digital ads that will air during the World Cup, the White House said, with a particular focus “to reach adults 50 and older for Black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI), American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), and rural audiences. will have a “targeted paid media effort” to urge Americans over the age of 50 and those with chronic illnesses to “seek treatment immediately if they catch Covid-19”. nationwide, the White House said, as well as on social and digital media.
There will also be $350 million in funding, earmarked for community health centers, which can be used “for mobile, drive-in, walk-in or community immunization events, partnerships with community and faith-based organizations to immunization activities, and awareness of the updated vaccine,” the White House said, and an investment of $125 million in “grants to national organizations that serve people with disabilities and seniors to support programs and community immunization efforts”.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will announce new enforcement guidelines Tuesday “to ensure nursing homes provide up-to-date Covid-19 vaccines and prompt treatment to their residents and staff” that will warn Nursing homes with low vaccination rates “will be referred to state investigative agencies for scrutiny” and could “be subject to enforcement action.”
The new funding for these efforts also comes as the White House asks Congress to include $10 billion in additional funding for the Covid-19 response as part of the government’s must-have funding bill.
The $10 billion request reflects a reduction from an initial $22.5 billion request submitted earlier this year that has not been met.
“We need additional resources to ensure we have the services and supplies necessary to keep the American people safe,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote in a letter to the president. of the House, Nancy Pelosi, last week, warning that a failure to fund this request “would lead to unnecessary infections and deaths across the country and around the world”.
The $10 billion request includes $2.5 million “to ensure continued access to vaccines and treatments (including for the uninsured) as we move to commercialization of vaccines and treatments, and for maintenance costs of the strategic national stock”, 5 billion dollars for “the development of the next generation of vaccines and therapeutics”, 750 million dollars for the research and long-term treatment of Covid-19, and 1 billion dollars for funding for the Department of State to “provide support to prevent, detect, and respond to Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, including through vaccines, tests, and treatments, and through efforts to fill gaps in routine immunizations.
Previous efforts to push through Covid-19 funding for vaccines, tests and treatments this spring and summer have failed. Officials have repeatedly warned of the consequences of not passing on this funding as it takes steps to shift the Covid-19 response to the commercial market, pointing to “unacceptable trade-offs” in the US response.