Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in her second day as head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is already executing on plans to fulfill President Joe Biden's promise to administer 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine in his first 100 days.
"We recognize that this is the most immediate emergency -- to get this country back to health," Walensky said in an interview on the TODAY show Thursday morning. "The plan was not to start planning today. The plan was to start working today and to get it out to the people."
Walensky, 51, previously worked as an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. The Massachusetts resident was sworn in on Wednesday, the deadliest day in the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The nation reported 4,131 deaths on Inauguration Day, according to a tally by NBC News, exceeding the previous record set on Jan. 7, when a reported 4,110 people in the U.S. died from the coronavirus.
Walensky takes the helm at a time when the virus's U.S. death toll has eclipsed 400,000 with an anticipated 100,000 more by the middle to end of February at the current pace.
There are numerous plans in the works to get people vaccinated, Walensky said Thursday. In the interview with TODAY, she emphasized the significance of making sure health officials titrate, or continuously measure and adjust the balance, of the amount of vaccines in supply for the number of people eligible to receive it. The strategy is meant to prevent vaccines from sitting on shelves and as well as from long lines forming to receive it.
"We really need to match that and expand our eligibility to make sure that it fits with the vaccine supply," she said, adding that, "We need to make sure that there are enough vaccinators out there."
The Biden Administration's health team needs to ensure that they have a commissioned Health Corps, medical military, retirees, medical students and nursing students who are just about to graduate, dentists and veterinarians poised to vaccinate the public, Walensky said.
Biden also signed the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law that will enable government agencies to ramp up supplies. Walensky said the order will help the health team determine what resources are needed, whether that be in vaccine production, distribution, or in vaccine administration.
"We are working toward the answer to those questions," she said Thursday. "We're at day two in the driver's seat, but we understand right now, I think we still have vaccine on the shelves that we need to get into people."
Officials are looking at a diverse rollout plan that involves community vaccination centers, stadiums, gymnasiums and mobile units to "really get to every corner of this country," Walensky said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.