Washington, D.C. — The National Vaccinations Coordinator for the White House COVID-19 Response Team, Dr. Bechara Choucair, joined The Tent podcast this week to discuss the current strategies for vaccine production and distribution. Dr. Choucair joins the Biden administration with a wealth of experience in public health. He most recently served as the senior vice president and chief community health officer at Kaiser Permanente. He also previously served as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
One year after the onset of the pandemic, the Biden administration is laying critical groundwork to ensure increased access to COVID-19 vaccines in order to reach a critical mass of inoculated Americans as quickly as possible. Dr. Choucair describes the proposed legislative actions to stop the spread:
The president’s top legislative priority is to pass the American Rescue Plan, which will help us mount the national vaccination program that we need. So, if you look at the plan, the bill will invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, tribes, and territories. And, that $20 billion will help launch community vaccination centers across the country, including deploying mobile vaccination units to hard to reach areas.
Despite the tumultuous path to a viable solution, Dr. Choucair and the COVID-19 response team have worked tirelessly to mitigate the inaction of the previous administration while centering equity for those disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“Starting next week, we will be able to begin shipping doses directly to federally qualified health centers—or community health centers,” Dr. Choucair shared with The Tent. “When you think about community health centers, they serve almost 30 million people in this country—two-thirds of whom are living at or below the federal poverty line and 60 percent of whom are racial and ethnic minorities.”
“We are working with states and local departments on what would it take to make sure these mobile vaccination units are available, they are going into communities, and reaching hardest to reach populations.”
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