Biden Directs States to Make All Adults Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine by May 1

Mimi Nguyen Ly

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that he will direct states to make all adult Americans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.

The administration will make sure that every adult can get the vaccine by increasing the number of vaccination sites by May 1, Biden announced in his first primetime address to the nation marking one year since the COVID-19 pandemic was announced by the WHO.

This includes delivering vaccines directly to up to an additional 700 community health centers across the country, which would increase the number of total participating community health centers to 950. The number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program will also be doubled to a total of more than 20,000 pharmacies. The number of federally-run mass vaccination centers, which currently stands at nearly 600 centers across the country, will also double.

More than 4,000 active duty troops will be deployed to support the vaccination effort, to a total of 6,000 troops, Biden said.

His administration will organize for a number of tools by May 1 to make it easier for people to get a vaccine. According to the president, this will include a government-supported website, technology teams to help certain states improve their websites so Americans can use the websites to schedule their vaccination appointments, and a phone hotline for those who do not have the internet.

“Let me be clear: That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you'll be able to get in line beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot,” Biden said, later adding, “I need you to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and when you can find an opportunity, and to help your family and friends and neighbors get vaccinated as well.”

The CDC has issued new guidance on activities for people on what they can do after they are fully vaccinated, which will include guidance for travel, small gatherings, work, and houses of worship. According to the new guidance, vaccinated grandparents can now visit and hug their grandchildren, without wearing a mask in most cases.

The guidance will also explain the benefits of vaccination to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated, Biden said.

The announcement to have all Americans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1 comes after Biden on Thursday signed a $1.9 trillion relief package into law. “This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” he said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office.

Jeff Zients, coordinator of the Biden COVID-19 task force, announced on Tuesday that Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine supply is set to increase to more than 20 million doses going out to across the country. Biden on Wednesday directed Zients and the Health and Human Services to procure another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Andy Slavitt, said at a press briefing on Wednesday that more than 91 million Americans have received a shot, with 61 million having received at least one dose, and 32 million fully vaccinated.
Mimi Nguyen Ly covers U.S. and world news.
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