President-elect Joe Biden promised to help vaccinate more Americans against coronavirus by approving a wider range of professionals who can administer vaccines. He also said he would ask Congress to hire 100,000 more public health professionals.
In a fact sheet released before Biden addressed the nation to lay out his coronavirus vaccination plans, the Biden transition team promised to “surge the public health workforce.”
“President-elect Biden has asked Congress to make an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce, funding 100,000 public health workers to nearly triple the country’s community health roles,” the fact sheet reads.
“These individuals will be hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.”
State and local public health officials have said their services have lost many staff over the past 15 years and say they don’t have the personnel needed to effectively manage the pandemic.
Biden also said he’d work to immediately expand those who are OK'd to give vaccines.
“President-elect Biden will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow additional qualified professionals to administer vaccines and strongly encourage states to use their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate,” the statement reads.
“The federal government, in partnership with states, will provide appropriate training, including thorough use of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.”
The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a little-known branch of the US military that includes medical professionals. Many Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff are members of the Public Health Service corps.
“The president-elect will also act swiftly to amend the current COVID-19 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declaration to permit certain qualified professionals, including retired medical professionals, that are not licensed under state law to administer vaccines to be able to do so with appropriate training in order to expand the number of qualified professionals able to administer the vaccine,” the statement added.