One of President Joe Biden’s top priorities is improving COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the country, and now Seattle tech giant Amazon is offering him help.
In a letter, Amazon asked that its essential employees get the vaccine at the “earliest appropriate time” and also stated that the company is “ready to assist” Biden in his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days.
State health officials in western Washington said the limited vaccine supply is the biggest barrier the area is facing.
And sometimes, allocations have been unpredictable.
“Week to week, we don’t know what to expect,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health- Seattle & King County, said. He said the allocation of the vaccine has bounced around from 18,000 to 73,000 doses a week.
Duchin said on a recent call, Biden’s vaccine chair promised changes.
“He told us as soon as they get in, they’re going to do a deep dive into the federal vaccine supply, and they’re going to be transparent about what’s there,” he said. “And about what we can expect over the coming weeks, and that should help us with our planning.”
In its letter to Biden, Amazon also went on to write, “We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts.”
But officials said they need more money too.
“We are, right now, drawing down money that we can’t afford to spend, but we have to have the vaccines out,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “We’re counting on the Biden administration; we’re counting on the new Congress.”
The president’s plan calls for federal funds to create new community vaccination sites, reimbursement of state deployments of the National Guard to support vaccination efforts and matching state and local emergency costs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
That support, according to University of Washington Medicine’s Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, will be essential as thousands more people become eligible for vaccines — too many for medical centers to handle on their own.
“It’s not going to be enough to rely on those entities alone,” she said. “We need some mass vaccine distribution sites, and this is where federal resources coming to the state are really going to be helpful.”
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