Why Lagging COVID Vaccine Rate At Rural Hospitals ‘Needs To Be Fixed Now

President Biden on Tuesday is set to announce new steps to reach rural Americans in the push to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official tells NPR. This emphasis comes as rural hospitals are raising alarms about the pace of vaccination — even among their own employees.

The Biden administration is moving into a new phase of its vaccination campaign, one where it knows doctors and health care professionals are often more persuasive than the government.

So it has prioritized a list of doctors enrolled in the vaccine system based on a “social vulnerability index” used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — including doctors in many rural communities — and has been asking state government to send vaccine doses to those doctors, the official said.

The administration also plans to work with states to enroll more pediatricians and family doctors in their vaccine systems so that they can begin giving people vaccines, a step that becomes “particularly critical” if the Food and Drug Administration gives emergency authorization for adolescents ages 12-15 to start getting the Pfizer vaccine, the official said.

The administration also is working with provider groups to encourage their members to sign up to give the vaccines, and will be providing technical assistance to help practices get ready for vaccination, the official said.

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