administration had no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday.

"The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under ’s watch.

He signed a series of executive orders last week, including some that target vaccine distribution.

Biden plans to partner with state and local governments to establish vaccination spots in conference centers, stadiums and gymnasiums. The new administration will also deploy thousands of clinical staff from federal agencies, military medical personnel and pharmacy chains to increase vaccinations, and make teachers and grocery clerks eligible.

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Vaccination programs lagged far behind the administration's target of 20 million Americans inoculated by the end of 2020.

"We've seen this factor all over the country where millions of doses have been distributed, but only about half have been given out," Klain said.

"So the process of getting that vaccine into arms - that's the hard process. That's where we're behind as a country. That's where we're focused in the Biden administration - on getting that ramped up."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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