President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine, three weeks after getting his first one, amid a slow roll-out of nationwide vaccinations to tackle a pandemic that continues to surge across the United States.
Biden pulled off his sport jacket to reveal a dark, short-sleeve T-shirt underneath and said, “Ready, set, go.”
Biden got his first shot on December 21 in a televised procedure. The virus has now killed nearly 375,000 people in the US and continues to upend life around the country.
In comments to reporters after his shot, Biden said he has confidence that his COVID-19 team can hit ambitious vaccination-rate targets after he takes office on January 20. The president-elect has said his administration will put in place an aggressive vaccination campaign, with the goal of administering 100 million doses of vaccine in the first 100 days. He also called the current rate of thousands of people dying daily “beyond the pale”.
As of Monday, nearly nine million Americans had received their first shot, or 2.7 percent of the US population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts have said as much as 85 percent of the population will have to be inoculated to achieve “herd immunity” and vanquish the outbreak.
Some public health experts have noted that no US state has come close to using up its federal allotments of vaccines thus far, according to data from the CDC.
States in recent days have been adding vaccination capacity with the ad hoc conversion of sport venues, convention halls and empty schools into vaccine centres.
“Every shot in the arm is a step closer to ending this pandemic,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.
Many states are responding by throwing open the line and ramping up the pace of vaccinations, in some cases offering them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In New York City, the epicentre of the outbreak early last year, two 24-7 sites opened and several more are expected to be up and running during the next two weeks. Appointments for the midnight-to-4am shift on Tuesday were snapped up quickly, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. As of Monday, the state began offering vaccines to people over 75, teachers, transit workers and other front-line workers.
Arizona, with the highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate in the US, planned to dispense shots beginning Monday in a drive-through, round-the-clock operation at the suburban Phoenix stadium. Shots are being offered to people 75 and older, teachers, police and firefighters.
In Texas, Dallas County was scheduled to open a vaccine “megasite” on Monday on the grounds where the Texas State Fair is held.
Detroit is turning its TCF convention centre into a vaccination hub starting Wednesday, with officials planning to schedule 20,000 appointments during the next month for people 75 and older. Police officers and bus drivers can also start to get vaccinated there at the end of the week.
“We are going to keep ramping up our vaccinations to the maximum extent the supply allows,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said.
In California, one of the deadliest hot spots in the US, authorities opened a drive-through “vaccination superstation” on Monday in a parking lot where the goal is to inoculate 5,000 healthcare workers a day. People will remain in their vehicles while they are given a shot, and will be asked to remain for 15 minutes so they can be watched for any reactions.
About 584,000 doses have been administered in California, or about 1.5 percent of the population.
Florida, the longtime retirement haven with one of the biggest concentrations of elderly people in the country, is using Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens to dispense shots.
Governor Ron DeSantis moved to open up vaccinations more broadly to people 65 and over.
The roll-outs have been uneven across the state’s counties but have met with huge demand, with some senior citizens standing in line in the chill or sleeping in their cars overnight.