FEMA is seeking bids on $3 billion in contracts to hire medical personnel for Covid vaccine centers

Spc. Katherine Deskins of the Nevada Army National Guard administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Federal Emergency Management Agency Urban Search and Rescue Personnel Director Dennis West on the first day of Clark County’s pilot vaccination program at Cashman Center on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking bids on two contracts worth $3 billion to hire thousands of medical personnel to help staff federal and state Covid-19 vaccine sites around the country.

The agency expects to start taking bids as soon as next week and hopes to award the contracts in early to mid-March, according to a 13-page description of the contract it released this week to gauge industry interest. A representative for FEMA did not provide comment in time for publication.

President Joe Biden announced last month his administration’s plan to deploy FEMA and other federal personnel to build and help staff Covid-19 vaccine sites in a move to ramp up the pace of vaccinations. But the number of personnel trained and certified to actually administer the shots has been an ongoing constraint.

FEMA said the $3 billion will help pay for an estimated 5,000 licensed medical workers who will be deployed to various vaccination sites across the country. The contracts will likely run for six months but could be extended to 18 months if needed, FEMA said.

FEMA plans to divide the contracts into two territories covering the Eastern and Western U.S. Facilities that could receive staffing through the contracts include local and community-based hospitals, state-managed sites as well as federally supported and federally managed sites, FEMA said.

The contractors, FEMA said, will be responsible for ensuring proper storage and handling of all vaccine doses at their sites. The personnel will also prepare and administer the shots as well as observe patients after they’ve been immunized in case of any adverse reaction. Other administrative work such as scheduling appointments and receiving patients, however, will fall on the site’s own staff, not that of the contractors, FEMA said.

Considering the projected timeline of the awards, the task orders will likely be used to ramp up vaccinations this spring as the government opens eligibility up for the vaccines to more of the population. The federal government is already launching an initial rollout this week of its partnership with a handful of retail pharmacies to increase the number of sites administering the shots.

Those pharmacy chains, such as CVS Health and Walgreens, have been staffing up eligible vaccinators for months in anticipation for the rollout. FEMA’s anticipated task orders will likely help publicly run sites increase their capacity to administer shots, as well.

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