President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that he said gives Americans “first priority” for coronavirus vaccines produced in the US — and said he’d invoke the Defense Production Act if more were needed.
During a White House event, Trump also said the Food and Drug Administration was “just days away” from approving the first vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and that the government would “immediately begin mass distribution.”
The country’s states have “designated over 50,000 sites that will receive the vaccine,” which will be provided “free of cost” to Americans, he said.
Trump said his executive order would “ensure that American citizens have first priority to receive American vaccines and then we’re going to be working with other countries all over the world.”
“And I think we’ll be able to start doing that almost immediately also because we have millions of doses coming in,” he added during remarks at the Operation Warp Speed vaccine summit.
Trump also appeared to push back against a report Monday that said he passed on a chance over the summer to secure additional supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, saying he’d invoke the Defense Production Act if necessary.
The law, enacted in 1950, authorizes the president to force domestic industries to produce materials and goods necessary for the national defense.
In April, Trump invoked the DPA so the government could issue contracts for ventilators and N95 masks.