FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Plan to Get Americans an Updated COVID-⁠19 Vaccine Shot and Manage COVID-⁠19 this Fall

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FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Plan to Get Americans an Updated COVID-⁠19 Vaccine Shot and Manage COVID-⁠19 this Fall

Today, the Biden Administration is announcing its plan to get Americans their updated COVID-19 vaccine shot this fall, to ensure that the nation conti

Today, the Biden Administration is announcing its plan to get Americans their updated COVID-19 vaccine shot this fall, to ensure that the nation continues to effectively manage COVID-19 and minimize its disruptions, and to stay prepared for whatever may come.

This plan builds on the Administration’s work over the past 19 months to make COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, tests, masks, and other critical tools widely available to the American people. As the first nation in the world with updated vaccines that target the strain of Omicron that is dominant in the U.S. and around the world, we have a new, powerful tool to prevent serious illness and death, keep businesses and schools open, and get back to our more normal routines.

This summer, we showed that we know how to manage fluctuations in COVID-19 and move forward safely. In fact, even as the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron drove a rise in infections, the U.S. experienced far lower rates of hospitalization and death than in previous surges. Today, daily COVID-19 deaths are down nearly 90 percent since the President took office, and when properly used, the tools we now have can prevent nearly all COVID-19 deaths.

As we head into the fall, we know that there is a potential for an increase in infections, in part due to increased waning of immunity from vaccines and prior infection. Additionally, as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors, contagious viruses like COVID-19 can spread more easily. And, as we saw last fall with the emergence of Omicron, we must continue to stay prepared for the possibility of a potential new variant of concern.

The Administration’s plan to manage COVID-19 this fall focuses on making sure that Americans continue to have easy and equitable access to lifesaving tools, particularly the updated COVID-19 vaccines, and encouraging Americans to use them. Its success relies on all Americans—state and local leaders, health care providers, employers, educators, community- and faith-based organizations, and individuals—doing their part and taking commonsense actions to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.

The Administration’s plan includes:

1. Getting Americans the best available protection through free and easy access to new, updated COVID-19 vaccines.Following actions last week by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are launching a new, updated COVID-19 vaccine this week. The new vaccines provide the strongest available protection from the Omicron strain of the COVID virus, which did not exist when the original vaccine was developed. As the virus continues to change, we will now be able to update our vaccines annually to target the dominant variant. Everyone age 12 years and older is eligible for these updated vaccines at least two months after their primary series or their most recent booster. Given the potential for cases to increase in the fall and winter, it is critical that Americans get a new, updated COVID-19 vaccine to stay protected. The Administration is launching a comprehensive effort to make sure that these vaccines are free, widely available, and easy to access for all Americans.

  • Offering new, updated COVID-19 vaccines for free at tens of thousands of trusted locations, with convenient appointment and walk-in hours: The Administration has secured over 170 million doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines, which will be made available to the American people for free at tens of thousands of convenient locations nationwide, including pharmacies, doctor’s offices, health centers, and state and local health departments. Americans can visit Vaccines.gov to find locations with the new, updated vaccines near them—with more locations and appointments becoming available in the coming days and weeks. After pre-ordered doses are delivered, over 90 percent of Americans will have a location with free, updated COVID-19 vaccines within 5 miles of where they live. The Administration is working with providers to ensure that vaccinations are offered at convenient hours for working families, including on the weekends and in the evenings, and through walk-in appointments. These efforts will help to ensure that the public can get boosted in trusted locations and at times that work best for them.
    • Helping people get their COVID-19 shot and flu shot at the same time in one place: Americans can elect to get their annual flu shot at the same time as their updated COVID-19 vaccine. For Americans who want to get their updated COVID-19 shot and their annual flu shot at the same time, the Administration is working with providers to be able to offer both vaccines at many locations, so Americans can easily and efficiently get the protection that they need for the fall and winter.
    • Launching new community vaccination centers where needed: The Administration remains ready to help jurisdictions interested in standing up new community vaccination centers increase access to the updated COVID-19 vaccines. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will continue to offer reimbursement for 90 percent of the eligible costs of setting up vaccination sites—from procuring equipment to offering translation and transportation services to communities.
  • Focusing on protecting those most at-risk: The Administration is launching a targeted campaign to get highest-risk Americans—including older Americans and immunocompromised individuals—their updated COVID-19 vaccine shot as quickly as possible.
    • In the coming weeks, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will reach out to the more than 16 million people who receive Medicare emails to share information on these updated vaccines, including when and how to get them. CMS will also add a message on the updated COVID-19 shots to the 1-800-MEDICARE line, reaching approximately 2 million people each month. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) will help older adults find information about where and how to get boosted through the Eldercare Locator, including connecting individuals who face barriers to leaving their homes with local services. The Administration will also continue to provide moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals the support they need to live their lives safely. This includes providing clear information on how to access the updated COVID-19 vaccines and further expanding access to and awareness of effective pre-exposure prophylactics such as Evusheld to supplement vaccine protection.
    • The Administration will work with long-term care and other congregate settings serving older Americans and people with disabilities to ensure that we are protecting those most at risk with these updated vaccines. CMS will offer resources to thousands of nursing homes so that they have tools to help get residents and staff vaccinated, including: helping schedule on-site vaccination clinics; meeting directly with nursing home administrators to help make a plan to get their staff and residents boosted; and offering office hours with technical assistance and support. ACL will provide information to residents of long-term care facilities and their families about the benefits of updated vaccines.
    • ACL’s Disability Information and Assistance Line (DIAL) will help people with disabilities find vaccination locations offering the updated vaccine, make appointments, and get connected to resources to overcome barriers to getting vaccinated, including transportation. ACL will also continue to work with state and local disability and aging organizations to use the remaining grant funding they were awarded last year to support vaccine access for people with disabilities and older adults.  
  • Empowering people with facts and answers to their questions: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a comprehensive public education campaign that will leverage deep relationships with national and local organizations and will include paid media to meet people where they are with facts and answers to their questions.
    • Engaging community organizations: Building on the successful efforts that have gotten over 600 million shots in arms since January 2021, HHS will engage national, regional, and local community-based organizations to reach people with trusted information on the new, updated COVID-19 vaccines. This continued collaboration will help meet people where they are, and foster conversations with trusted members of their communities. Activities in September include:
      • Local chapters of the National Parent Teacher Association hosting “Shots to Go” vaccination clinics throughout the month.
      • Organizations with strong reach among racial and ethnic minority communities—including the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Cobb Institute, and the National Hispanic Pastor Alliance—hosting community health expos and vaccine drives in cities.
      • Faith-based groups, such as the Women’s Missionary Society Foundation, hosting a series of vaccine events at AME Churches in several states.
      • Groups with strong reach across rural communities, such as Healthy Trucking of America, hosting pop-up clinics.
    • Paid media: HHS’s We Can Do This Campaign will launch a paid media campaign aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccination, with a focus on those over age 50, as well as Black, Hispanic, rural, Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native audiences through TV, radio, digital and print outlets

2. Ensuring that Americans continue to have easy access to COVID-19 testing and treatments to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to keep people out of the hospital. COVID-19 tests and treatments—which the Administration has made widely available and easy to access—have played an essential role in getting schools and businesses open again, reducing serious illness, and minimizing disruption to daily life. These tools will continue to be critical as we head into the fall. While the lack of additional COVID-19 funding from Congress puts constraints on what we are able to do, the Administration will do everything in its power to ensure that tests and treatments remain widely available and easy to access, and will encourage Americans to use them.

  • Purchasing more at-home COVID-19 tests for the nation’s stockpile and bolstering the manufacturing of tests made in America:The Administration is acting, within its limited funding, to increase the supply of at-home COVID-19 tests in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) by purchasing over 100 million additional at-home, rapid tests from domestic manufacturers. While insufficient to adequately replenish our existing stockpile of at-home tests, this procurement will help meet some testing needs in the months ahead and will put us in a better position to manage a potential increase in testing demand this fall and winter. And, it will further the Administration’s goal of mobilizing and strengthening the domestic testing manufacturing industrial base.
  • Advancing equitable access to COVID-19 treatments, including through additional Test to Treat sites:The Administration will work to expand the Test to Treat footprint beyond the 2,800 current Test to Treat sites, including more mobile and telehealth-based models that will meet people where they are and reduce barriers to access for highest-risk individuals. As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) Tech program and ASPR are launching a new telehealth Test to Treat pilot program that will partner with state, local, Tribal, and/or territorial health departments to serve as many as 15 rural and high-risk communities. This pilot will allow individuals in vulnerable communities to receive home-delivery of at-home tests, use telehealth to consult a clinician without having to leave home, receive a prescription for COVID-19 treatment when appropriate, and have the medications delivered to their home, all at no cost to the individual.
  • Investing in testing innovations for at-home tests accessible to people with disabilities, and for next-generation, high-performance COVID-19 rapid tests:The NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering is launching two key initiatives as part of its RADx Fast Track Program to ensure equitable access to at-home tests. The first program will accelerate the development of at-home diagnostic technologies that will provide improved accessibility and ease-of-use for populations with disabilities. The second is to accelerate the development of next-generation COVID-19 diagnostic technologies with improved performance. These investments will ensure that our nation’s testing and diagnostic capabilities can continue to stay ahead of the virus and will help provide additional access to testing for individuals with disabilities.

3. Calling on all Americans to use every tool at their disposal to keep communities safe and schools and businesses open.We now have more tools than ever before to protect and build on the progress we have made, and these tools are widely available—but we must continue to use them this fall. To keep America moving forward safely, the Administration is once again calling on all Americans—including private sector and education leaders—to do their part and take steps to protect themselves and their communities through vaccinations, testing, treatments, and indoor air quality improvements.

  • Calling on all businesses to take key actions to protect employees and customers: The Administration is calling on employers to take actions this fall in three key areas of COVID-19 mitigation and protection against serious illness: helping their employees access updated COVID-19 vaccines; ensuring that they know about COVID-19 treatment options and how to access them; and improving indoor air quality across their buildings. This includes actions such as offering paid-time-off for vaccination; working with local vaccine providers to host on-site vaccination clinics for employees, including by offering both the annual flu shot and updated COVID-19 vaccines; incorporating clear information about COVID-19 treatments into employee health plans and employee communications; and taking concrete steps to improve indoor air quality, such as commissioning, repairing, and improving HVAC systems, and installing high-quality air filters and air cleaners. To help businesses take action, the Administration will release clear information about steps that businesses of all kinds can take to protect their workforce and customers and to keep their doors open this fall, and will work across the federal government and with business organizations to share information, answer questions, and support actions in any way that we can.
  • Calling on all school districts, colleges, and universities to leverage every available tool to protect educators, staff, and students and keep students in classrooms: The Administration is calling on every school district in America to host at least one vaccination clinic by Thanksgiving, as we continue to provide resources to help schools to do so. The Administration is also calling on colleges and universities to launch vaccination campaigns in the fall, including on-site clinics for students and faculty. In addition to ensuring that educators, staff, students, and campus communities are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, the Administration is calling on schools to use funding provided through the American Rescue Plan to improve ventilation and make other indoor air quality improvements. To help make indoor air quality improvements easier for schools to navigate, the Administration is collaborating with organizations that provide expert guidance and technical support from skilled, trained, and qualified technicians, and the Department of Energy is providing 1-1 consultations for K-12 schools around the country on how to improve indoor air quality.

4. Preparing for potential surges and new variants and building a resilient national COVID-19 response moving forward. Federal agencies have worked at unprecedented levels of speed and coordination to effectively fight back the COVID-19 surges the nation has seen to date. While we have made significant progress in our ability to manage COVID-19 without surges in hospitalizations and deaths, the Administration is clear that we must stay on our front foot and act aggressively in the face of an unpredictable virus. We will also continue to provide clear information on steps Americans can take to protect themselves, including on when to consider masking in crowded, indoor public spaces based on their COVID-19 Community Levels. And, as we drive additional progress on vaccinations, testing, treatments, indoor air quality, and more, the Administration will continue to chart the path for managing COVID-19 in the future.

  • Strengthening our national readiness and preparedness to respond to whatever may come through federal table-top preparedness exercises: In the fall, the Administration will continue relying on the crucial surveillance tools we have built to monitor the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S., and to detect any future variants. This includes CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System, which now collects data from over 1,000 wastewater treatment plant sampling sites in sewer systems that serve roughly half of all Americans. In addition, the entire weight of the federal government will continue to be able to rapidly bring resources to bear in the event of a new surge or variant. This includes activating the robust emergency response infrastructure we have built to surge federal personnel, critical supplies, personal protective equipment, testing capacity, and other support to local health systems when needed. Federal agencies will continue to conduct tabletop exercises and scenario planning this fall to ensure that our national response remains sharp and teams remain ready to respond to any changing circumstances.
  • Calling on Congress to provide additional COVID-19 funding to meet critical needs: The Administration has made clear to Congress that we need additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response. As we warned for months, Congressional inaction has forced us to make difficult tradeoffs that harm our response and preparedness. Last week, we sent an updated $22.4 billion request to Congress to meet immediate short-term domestic needs, including testing; to accelerate the research and development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics; to increase our understanding of Long COVID; to prepare for future surges and variants; and to support the global response to COVID-19. While we have made tremendous progress on COVID-19, Congress must step up to ensure that we can continue stay on our front foot against this unpredictable virus.
  • Planning to eventually transition procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments to the commercial market: The Administration will continue to provide lifesaving tools—including updated COVID-19 vaccines—to the American people this fall for free. To the extent that Congress fails to fund ongoing needs, we are forced to accelerate transitioning procurement and distribution of these critical tools in a way that may leave Americans vulnerable. With additional funding, the Administration will be able to work with state and local health departments, health insurers, health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders to drive a thoughtful, well-coordinated transition—in a way that does not leave large gaps in coverage or prevent easy access to vaccines, tests, and treatments to the American people. The timeline of this transition should be dictated by the state of the pandemic and by the need to ensure an orderly transition, not by the lack of funding.