The federal government will begin supplying states with a total of 13.5 million vaccine doses per week, the biggest increase in distribution since President Joe Biden took office, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced Tuesday.
The new weekly supply reflects a 57% increase since Inauguration Day, when states were receiving less than nine million doses per week. The news was also announced on a call between the White House’s COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients and the nation’s governors on Tuesday.
Biden officials have said they inherited a low vaccine supply and a lack of state-level plans for administering the shots from the Trump administration. The new White House COVID Response team has worked to boost supply and give states a three-week outlook into the number of doses they’ll receive.
"Our focus has been on those three components: Increasing supply vaccines, increasing vaccinators – people who can put those vaccines in arms – and increasing vaccination locations so people know where to go," Psaki told reporters Tuesday.
Last week, President Biden announced that the U.S. finalized the purchase of 200 million more doses of the vaccine, bringing the total supply to 600 million doses promised by the end of July, enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans.
Still, the rollout got off to a slow start due to a lack of coordination between the previous administration and states, leading to a lack of people to give the shots and sites for vaccinations.
The first two federally-run vaccination centers opened in California on Tuesday at the Oakland Coliseum and California State University in Los Angeles. Both sites aim to vaccinate 6,000 people per day.
Biden has made it a goal to open 100 of those sites across the U.S. by the end of April, and more will open in Texas next week.
On Tuesday, the White House also announced an expansion of the program sending vaccines directly to pharmacies, which is separate from the doses sent to states.
The U.S. will now send two million doses to pharmacies each week, double the one million the program began with. Officials said they hope to expand the program over time to eventually reach 40,000 pharmacy locations.
"This program will expand access to neighborhoods across the country so that people can call and make an appointment and get a shot conveniently and quickly,” Psaki said Tuesday. "This is a critical, critical part of our plan."
On Monday, governors sent a letter to Biden asking for more coordination between the federal government and states on the doses sent to pharmacies in order to prevent overlap.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, one of the officials who helped draft the letter, described their request in a press conference on Monday.
"We need coordination between the federal government and the state government so we know what pharmacies they're sending to. We don't send to the same ones," Cuomo said. "Some pharmacies are already getting a distribution. If the federal government is sending to CVS, I don't send to CVS."