Military Prepares to Deploy Thousands of Active-Duty Troops to Help FEMA Deliver Vaccines

U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck and Acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton
U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck and Acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton conduct a press briefing via phone on the whole-of-nation COVID response, and support at community vaccination centers, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Feb. 16, 2021. (Lisa Ferdinando/DoD)

The Pentagon is preparing to deploy thousands of active-duty U.S. military personnel to support COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country, according to Air Force Gen. Glen Vanherck, head of U.S. Northern Command.

As many as 3,700 troops are on stand-by deployment orders to support Federal Emergency Management Agency mass inoculation centers, Vanherck said during a phone call with reporters Tuesday.

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Currently, 247 personnel are deployed to Los Angeles and Oakland, California, and New Jersey, with roughly 850 additional personnel slated to go out Feb. 24 as teams to assist locations in New York and Texas.

The rest are prepared to deploy as teams to facilitate administering up to 6,000 vaccinations a day at some sites and 3,000 at others.

"How much will we have, to get to those 100 teams, it depends on how much the pharmacies can do, how much state and local governments can handle," Vanherck said.

According to Vanherck, a large Air Force team will deploy to Houston, while a smaller team will deploy to Brooklyn. An Army and Marine Corps team will go to Dallas, while a Navy team will go to Queens.

Other teams will support vaccine delivery in New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Teams will include personnel capable of distributing vaccines, as well as pharmacists, nurse supervisors and members who can handle the necessary paperwork, screen patients and run the sites, Vanherck said.

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it plans to distribute 13 million doses at the end of February. If all 100 of the U.S. military teams requested by FEMA deploy, they could administer more than 400,000 vaccinations a day, according to Robert Fenton, a senior employee filling the duties of FEMA's acting administrator.

Cases of COVID-19 have dropped significantly in the U.S. this year, down more than 40% in the last two weeks. Nearly 28 million Americans have been infected since the beginning of the outbreak and 487,564 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Nearly 40 million Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine, including 15 million who have received both doses.

As of Tuesday, 71 million doses had been delivered to distribution sites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime

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