Biden directs states to make all adults eligible for vaccine by May

In an address on Thursday, President Joe Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine no later than May 1. To get there, the Administration is buying more doses, and ramping up more vaccination sites in partnership with local clinics and pharmacies.

President Joe Biden directs states to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 during an address to mark the one-year anniversary of the shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Alex Wong, Getty Images

In a push to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Biden Administration directed states to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1.   To get there, the Administration plans to significantly expand the number of vaccination sites across the U.S.

President Joe Biden gave an address on Thursday on a grim anniversary — one year after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. To date, 527,726 people in the U.S. have died from the novel coronavirus.

Hours before his first primetime address, he signed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that would allocate $20 billion for vaccine distribution and $50 billion for testing.

So far, the U.S. is administering vaccines at a rate of 2 million per day, but access varies significantly between states and counties. In many cases, the communities that have suffered the worst consequences from the virus have also been the ones with the least access.

To reach Biden’s May 1 goal, the Administration will purchase more vaccine doses and open more vaccination sites, some of which will serve these communities.

To start, the U.S. will buy 100 million more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot. More people will also be allowed to administer the shots, including dentists, EMTs, midwives, physician assistants, veterinarians and medical students.

In the next six weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will send vaccines to 700 more community health centers, which serve low-income and uninsured patients, according to a White House fact sheet. In mid-February, the CDC launched a program to directly send doses to 250 health centers; now it is expected to serve a total of 950.

The Biden Administration also plans to double the number of federally-run mass vaccination centers, for a total of nearly 600.

It will also double the number of pharmacies administering vaccines to the public, for a total of 20,000, with an emphasis on opening sites in the hardest-hit communities. The CDC began giving pharmacies a larger role in vaccinations in early February, tapping 21 pharmacy chains such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid. But the effort started with a limited number of locations.

Finally, when the vaccine is available to the broader public, the Biden Administration plans to launch a single website to find vaccination sites, as well as a 1-800 number for those without Internet access.

Biden exhorted listeners to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity, and help friends, family and neighbors get theirs.

“I promise I will do everything in my power, I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people. I need every American to do their part,” he said. “We’ve made so much progress. This is not the time to let up.”