Biden announces nationwide vaccine eligibility by April 19

President Biden announced Tuesday that he is moving up his target for all American adults to become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by almost two weeks to April 19.

Biden also announced that the United States has administered 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since he took office, putting the president on track to meet or exceed his goal of administering 200 million doses in his first 100 days in office.

Biden said that the “vast majority” of American adults would receive at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by the end of May, but he continued to urge vigilance in the fight against the virus amid a rise in cases.

“Despite the progress we are making as a nation, I want every American to know in no uncertain terms that this fight isn’t over. This progress we have worked so hard to achieve can be reversed. Now is not the time to let down. Now is not the time to celebrate,” Biden said in remarks from the State Dining Room.

Biden delivered the remarks after visiting a vaccination site at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday afternoon.

Biden said during his first prime-time address last month that he would urge states to make all adults eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by May 1. Biden previously said 90 percent of adults would be eligible by April 19.

The new target comes as the U.S. is steadily ramping up the amount of daily vaccinations. The Biden administration announced over the weekend that the U.S. hit 4 million doses in a 24-hour period for the first time. The U.S. is averaging 3 million doses each day.

Roughly a dozen states have already made anyone aged 16 and older eligible to sign up and receive a coronavirus vaccine, while other states have already laid out plans to open up vaccinations to all adults by or before April 19. Oregon, for instance, announced on Tuesday that all of those over 16 will be eligible on April 19. 

Biden credited the “hard work” of states, his team and the American public in announcing the new target on Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the announcement was meant to provide clarity to the American public that they will be able to sign up for vaccines on or before April 19.

Biden has repeatedly set achievable goals in his effort to address the pandemic, like his initial target of administering 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine in his first 100 days in office, which some health experts regarded as not aggressive enough. Biden doubled that goal to 200 million shots late last month as his administration worked to ramp up production of vaccines.

While Biden expects all adults to be eligible to receive vaccines in 13 days, it will take longer for states and cities to actually administer them to the public, something that Psaki noted on Tuesday.

“That doesn’t mean they will get it that day, it means they can join the line that day if they have not already done that beforehand,” Psaki said of the April 19 announcement.

The Biden administration is also grappling with how to address vaccine hesitancy and convince those wary of inoculations to receive them so that the U.S. population can reach herd immunity.

The Biden administration is spending $10 billion to expand access to vaccines and increase uptake in underserved communities. Last week, Vice President Harris announced a new grassroots network tasked with boosting confidence in vaccines in their communities.

Biden has said he expects Americans to return to some degree of normal life by July 4, which he reiterated on Tuesday.

“Better times are ahead. As I said before, we can have a safe and happy fourth of July with your family and friends and small groups in your backyard,” Biden said. “The real question is how much death, disease and misery are we going to see between now and then?”

Despite the positive vaccine news, the U.S. is still in the grip of the pandemic, with cases and hospitalizations rising again after weeks of decline. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky made an emotional appeal to the public last week to not let their guard down or ignore public health guidance as the U.S. grapples with a new surge of the virus and dangerous variants.

Updated at 5:37 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines Jen Psaki Joe Biden Pandemic Rochelle Walensky
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