Biden: All US adults to be eligible for vaccine by April 19

Biden administration wants to ramp up vaccination campaign as coronavirus cases rise due to COVID-19 variants.

Stanisha Land receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, on February 13, 2021 [File: Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters]
Stanisha Land receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, on February 13, 2021 [File: Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters]

President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that the United States will shave about two weeks off its May 1 deadline for states to make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccines.

Speaking from the White House following a visit to a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, Biden said that when he made the announcement to have all adults eligible to be vaccinated by May, Democratic and Republican governors decided to beat that date.

“Thanks to their hard work and the hard work of the American people and the hard work of my team I am announcing today that we’re moving that date up from May 1 to April 19 nationwide,” Biden said during the announcement.

“That means by no later than April 19 in every part of this country every adult over the age of 18 will be eligible to be vaccinated,” he said.

US President Joe Biden answers media questions after delivering remarks on the Department of Labor’s March jobs report from the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2021 [Erin Scott/Reuters]
Biden said the goal would enable Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July, the nation’s independence day with family and friends.

The federal government has significantly ramped up the pace of vaccinations as it works to end the COVID-19 pandemic. States with limited vaccine supply initially limited early doses to higher risk groups, such as the elderly.

Biden initially set a goal of delivering 100 million jabs into people’s arms within his first 100 days in office.

The goal has since been doubled to 200 million shots by his 100th day, which is April 29.

Biden announced just last week that 90 percent of adults would be eligible for one of three approved vaccines by April 19, in addition to having a vaccination site within 8km (five miles) of where they live.

But Tuesday’s announcement came with a warning, amid a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation, driven by the spread of new variants.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Rochelle Walensky on Monday said new COVID-19 mutations are the driving force for the increase, which is largely occurring among younger adults.

“We’re making incredible progress, there’s a lot of good news, but there’s also some bad news: new variants of the virus are spreading and they’re moving quickly, cases are going back up, hospitalisations are no longer declining,” Biden said.

Residents of William Reid Apartments rest for a few minutes after receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in the NYCHA housing complex in Brooklyn, New York City [File: Mary Altaffer/Pool via Reuters]
COVID-19 has killed more than 555,000 people in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally, but more than 167 million vaccine doses have been administered in the country. Four in 10 Americans have had at least one vaccine dose, a rate far ahead of most countries.

The US has authorised three vaccines so far, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines which require two doses, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a one-dose regimen.

Last week roughly 15 million Johnson & Johnson doses were ruined due to “human error” at a plant in Maryland.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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