HHS moves to enable recently retired doctors and nurses to deliver COVID-19 vaccine

White House
A White House briefing Wednesday laid out new strategies to boost COVID-19 vaccinations. (uschools/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to allow doctors and nurses that recently retired or are inactive to administer COVID-19 vaccinations as part of a broader strategy to ramp up vaccinations.

The announcement was made Wednesday as part of a White House briefing on the state of the pandemic and efforts to increase the supplies of the vaccine.

HHS plans to amend the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to ensure doctors and nurses who have retired or are inactive can administer shots and to permit anyone licensed to vaccinate in their state can administer a shot across state lines.

“This action by HHS will help get more vaccinators in the field,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator, in the briefing.

So far, the U.S. is averaging roughly 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccinations a day from Jan. 20-26. The U.S. has delivered 47 million doses, and states have administered 24 million.

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States will get a minimum of 10 million doses each week, officials added during the briefing.

“We are passing doses directly on to states very much in real-time as they order them,” said Andy Slavitt, the White House senior COVID-19 adviser. “We’re confident will receive supply on a rolling basis from manufacturers to allow us to continue to do so.”

He said that the White House has directed the purchase of 100 million more doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each to be delivered by the summer. The federal government also hopes to stand up 100 community vaccination clinics that can range from gyms to sports stadiums by the end of next month.

Slavitt added the administration is pursuing the deployment of mobile vaccination units that vaccinate hard-to-reach communities such as rural areas.

Zients said it is essential for Congress to pass the proposed $1.9 trillion relief plan proposed by Biden, which includes funding for the mobile units and community clinics.

“In order to get all Americans vaccinated, we need Congress to provide funds for vaccination,” he said. “We still have shortages of (personal protective equipment) and other critical materials. We need emergency funds to make sure we have those materials.”