Thousands of active-duty troops are on standby to deploy around the country to Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 vaccination sites, with a plan to bring millions of additional doses to some of the hardest-hit regions.
In addition to sites currently running in Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., the head of the U.S. Northern Command told reporters Tuesday, multiple sites are due to stand up in the next week or so in Texas and New York, followed by more in the Virgin Islands by early March.
Several hundred are on the ground now in California, but up to 3,700 have been “allocated to prepared to deploy,” Air Force Gen. Glen Vanherck said. “They have not been given a tasking to deploy.”
Troops from four services will man vaccine sites, which will be federally supported and receive vaccine doses separate from each state’s allocation.
By Feb. 24, Vanherck said, there will be an Air Force team in Houston, an Army-Marine Corps team in Dallas, a Navy team in Queens, N.Y., and an Air Force team in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Each team will be made of medics to administer vaccines, support staff to screen recipients before and monitor or adverse reactions afterward, as well as nurse supervisors to oversee each site.
NORTHCOM has requested up to 100 teams in total, half of which will have 139 personnel, the other half 222, able to administer 3,000 or 6,000 doses a day, respectively, Vanherck said.
If all 100 sites come online, they could be administering more than 400,000 doses a day, according to Robert Fenton, the senior official performing the duties of FEMA director.
The Biden administration announced Tuesday it would distribute more than 13 million doses in the last week of February, continuing to strive for 100 million doses within President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
So far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 15 million U.S residents have been fully vaccinated, out of 71,657,975 doses delivered and 55,220,364 administered.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.