A draft request for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Department of Defense that would seek as many as 10,000 service members to support administering Covid-19 vaccinations is close to being finalized, a FEMA spokesperson said Wednesday.
Service members could be deployed at up to 100 sites nationwide in support of administering the shots, according to the spokesperson. The Defense Department is anticipating a request from FEMA to assist with vaccinations, a defense official told CNN on Wednesday.
The news comes after CNN reported earlier this week that the Defense Department was weighing options to assist President Joe Biden‘s plan to vaccinate as many as 1.5 million people per day within months. One official previously said that as many as 10,000 troops could be deployed as part of the effort.
As of Tuesday, FEMA had obligated more than $1.2 billion to states, territories and tribes for expenses related to Covid-19 vaccination at 100% federal cost share, the agency announced Wednesday in a news release.
That number is expected to grow in the days ahead, according to the release. FEMA will reimburse local governments for use of their National Guard to respond to Covid-19 and other assistance, in accordance with Biden’s memorandum last Thursday.
Biden has upped the ante on his already ambitious vaccine expectations. When he said Monday that he expects the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day — raising the bar by roughly 500,000 more vaccinations than the target of 1 million per day in his first 100 days in office — he said the US could surpass that initial target in about three weeks.
But the administration has been open about the reality that the federal vaccine effort faces several hurdles. Speaking to CNN’s Erin Burnett, Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, noted on Tuesday that while procuring additional vaccines is important, the issues extend beyond that, such as making sure there are enough vaccination centers and people to administer the inoculations.
“It’s not just vaccines, also,” Klain said. “In some states, Erin, the problem is a lack of people to give shots. We’re working on surging that capacity. In some states there aren’t enough places. We’ve announced the creation of federal vaccination centers. So we need more vaccine, we need more vaccinations, we need more places to give the vaccinations. We are working on all three of those things.”