President Biden recently announced his goal of distributing 100 million COVID-19 vaccines to Americans in the first 100 days of his Administration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is leading the vaccination effort, and APHIS has deployed 119 employees to assist in several states. We are fortunate to have many highly skilled veterinary medical officers and animal health technicians who have the proper training, experience, and certifications to help accomplish this life-saving task, and we expect more deployments in the coming days.
The majority of APHIS’ deployed employees are assigned to Nevada and Oklahoma where they are helping to vaccinate people at a variety of rapid points of distribution including mobile teams and pop-up clinics. In addition, 8 employees have deployed to Texas to provide resource management support for a vaccination site; 6 employees have virtually deployed to assist Washington State in planning vaccination efforts; 4 employees have virtually deployed to assist Oregon; and 9 employees have virtually deployed to support FEMA.
APHIS is a proven emergency-response Agency, and every employee who joins our ranks knows they may one day be called upon to support our mission. We are honored that we can contribute to this most vital of missions that will benefit every facet of American life, including agriculture. At this time, the majority of employees are deploying from our Animal Care and Veterinary Services programs, but we also have some employees deploying from our Biotechnology Regulatory Services, Emergency, Regulatory and Compliance Services, International Services, Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Services, and Plant Protection and Quarantine programs.
Please know we will make every effort to minimize service disruptions, and we ask for your patience when delays occur. We want to be upfront about this likelihood and make you aware we are taking steps to prioritize activities customers depend on, including endorsing health certificates, issuing permits and conducting inspections for new license applications.
Most deployments are lasting 30 days, but we expect several rounds of deployments may be needed to help achieve the President’s goal. We will also be reaching out to USDA’s accredited veterinarians to seek additional volunteers who have the skills to help with this nationwide effort.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have committed to meeting the needs of our customers while navigating the challenges of the pandemic and ensuring the safety of our employees. Nearly one year later, this continues to be our goal, and we hope that our efforts to vaccinate the public will help us all return to business as usual that much sooner.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.