FEMA requests help from Pentagon to administer COVID vaccine: DoD

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The Department of Defense on Thursday said it has received a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for help “administering” the coronavirus vaccine across the U.S.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the department is “evaluating the request, and what kinds of support it can provide.”

A nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine in Pittsboro, N.C. at Piedmont Health Senior Care, a federally qualified health center where PACE patients and underserved populations are receiving the coronavirus vaccine. 

“Given the significance of the request, it will be reviewed urgently but carefully to determine what DoD assets can safely be made available to support the effort,” Kirby said in a statement. “As Secretary (Lloyd) Austin has said, DoD is committed to do as much as it possibly can to assist the whole-of-government effort against COVID-19.”

Kirby did not specify the number of troops that would be necessary to carry out such an operation, but it is expected to be in the thousands.

Speaking at a press conference later Thursday, Kirby said any help from the help would likely be a “mix of active-duty National Guard and Reserve force to help perform a variety of coronavirus related tasks, including help getting more shots into people’s arms.

The statement comes after President Joe Biden on Monday said he believed it was possible to administer 150 million doses of the COVID vaccine during his first 100 days in office. He also said that by spring, anyone who wants to get a vaccination would be able to do so.

“I think it will be this spring. I think we’ll be able to do that this spring. But it’s going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country,” the president said. “But I think we can do that.”

The next day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki seemed to tamper down the president’s optimism.

“What the president’s goal is, is ensuring that there’s greater availability in the spring,” Psaki said. “But the fact is,” she added, “every American is not going to be eligible this spring.”

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

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