Public/Global Health

All adults in US now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

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All adults in the United States are now eligible to register for a coronavirus vaccination, an accomplishment public health experts say represents a major step toward defeating the ongoing pandemic. 

Those 16 and older in every state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are eligible to receive a vaccine as of Monday, The New York Times noted, a marker that coincides with the April 19 deadline set by President Biden’s administration for states to make appointments available to all adults. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates more than 131 million people, or about half of all U.S. adults, have already received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, with an average of 3.2 million new doses being given each day. 

The 3.2 million dose per day average represents an uptick of roughly 1.7 million from last month, according to the CDC. 

The Times noted that Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont were the latest states to open vaccine registration appointments to all adults. 

“It’s truly historic that we have already reached this milestone,” Nandita Mani, the associate medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Washington Medical Center, told the newspaper

Biden had initially targeted May 1 as the date for all states to make vaccines available to every adult, but moved the timeline up as vaccine rollout efforts quickened. 

“Even moving at the record speed we are moving at, we are not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million Americans,” the president said earlier this month. “This is going to take time.”

The nationwide vaccination effort was dealt a slight blow last week when the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a pause in doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing a rare blood clotting issues in a handful of patients out of the millions of people who had received it. 

“One of the most important reasons why people have hesitancy is they’re concerned about the safety. The very fact that you have an organization, two organizations, the CDC and the FDA, looking so carefully at this, making safety the primary concern, in my mind, confirms or underscores the situation that we take safety very seriously,” said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases doctor following the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “So I would think, at the end of the day, it could actually diminish hesitancy by saying, ‘Boy, those people there, they’re looking at that really carefully.’”

Public health experts have said a mass inoculation effort, through which as many Americans become vaccinated as possible is the best way to stomp out the pandemic and return to some semblance of normalcy in American life. 

In the meantime, officials at the White House and CDC have urged all Americans to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings as officials work to help the country reach so-called “herd immunity.” 

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared,” Rachel Walensky, the CDC director, said late last month in response to reports of surging coronavirus cases across the country. 

— Updated at 8:33 a.m.

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