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Pentagon evaluating request for help in administering COVID-19 vaccines

by Reuters
Friday, 29 January 2021 00:51 GMT

(Adds comment from White House chief of staff)

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The Pentagon is evaluating a request from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide help in administering COVID-19 vaccines, a spokesman said on Thursday.

On Monday, President Joe Biden said he believed it was possible to have 150 million doses of vaccine administered in his first 100 days in office.

"Given the significance of the request, it will be reviewed urgently but carefully to determine what DoD assets can safely be made available to support the effort," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

In a briefing later on Thursday, Kirby said he would not be surprised if the military assistance included a mix of active-duty, National Guard and reserve troops.

The Pentagon did not provide the number of troops that could be involved.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told "CBS Evening News" that FEMA was working with the Pentagon to use 10,000 troops and open up 100 centers across the country to increase the availability of vaccines.

The pandemic, which has killed over 420,000 Americans, is currently infecting more than 173,000 people daily and has left millions out of work.

Using the military to fight the coronavirus is not new. At its peak under former President Donald Trump, more than 47,000 National Guard troops were supporting COVID-19 operations and about 20,000 continue to help.

The Army Corps of Engineers has also built thousands of rooms across the country to assist hospitals with the strain caused by the spread of the coronavirus. (Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart, Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

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