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Biden administration amps up efforts to boost new COVID-19 shots

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Biden administration amps up efforts to boost new COVID-19 shots

President Biden on Tuesday will announce a series of new efforts to boost the administration of the bivalent COVID-19 booster shots, including partnerships with several major companies and pharmacy chains.

To encourage more people to get boosted, the Department of Health and Human Services will also be launching a tour on Oct. 26 during which it will host vaccine pop-up events and distribute toolkits to families.

Medicare will also be sending out email reminders to about 16 million people in the next week informing them of how they can get the updated booster.

“While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it was when the President took office, the virus continues to evolve. COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory illnesses spread more quickly in the winter, as people gather indoors,” the White House said in the statement.

The announcement of new vaccination efforts from the White House coincides on the same day Biden will receive his own dose of the bivalent omicron-specific shot. Biden’s vaccination comes almost exactly three months after he tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time, falling in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to time vaccination following infection.

During his remarks on Tuesday, Biden will be joined by the leaders of major pharmacy chains including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and Albertson’s. The White House’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci, COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will also be joining him.

“The President will again renew his call for all business, educational, and civic leaders to encourage their communities to receive their updated vaccines and keep their communities safe,” said a White House official.

According to data from the CDC, about 19.4 million eligible people have received a bivalent booster dose, representing roughly 6 percent of the U.S. population. Cases continue to trend downwards, though health experts have warned the U.S. could experience another surge similar to the one Europe is currently experiencing as temperatures drop.

Retail partners including Walgreens, Uber and DoorDash will also be contributing to efforts, the White House announced Tuesday, with the three companies working together to deliver Paxlovid antiviral prescriptions directly to patients.

People living in vulnerable communities will be able to get their prescriptions delivered to them at no cost through Walgreens. Information on this program will be shared in the coming weeks, according to the administration.

The Biden administration on Tuesday also issued a “Fall Playbook” to businesses on how to manage COVID-19. The guidance encouraged businesses to inform their employees about coronavirus treatments and help them gain access to the updated boosters.