WASHINGTON – President Biden announced Tuesday that he is moving up his call for all U.S. adults to become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine to April 19, two weeks sooner than his initial goal of May 1.
“Everyone is going to be able to do this before the month is out,” Biden said while touring a pop-up vaccination site at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va.
Biden wants to eliminate any confusion for Americans about whether they are eligible to be vaccinated, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“That doesn’t mean they will get it that day,” Psaki said. “It means they can join the line.”
The administration is also sending a message to seniors – who are one of the most vulnerable populations – to get their shots now if they haven’t already because lines are about to become longer. Seventy-five percent of those 65 and older have gotten at least one shot and more than half are fully vaccinated, according to the government.
“You’re doing the right thing,” Biden told Virginians waiting to get vaccinated, as he jokingly asked a man about to receive a shot if it would help if Biden held his hand.
“Man, you’ve got biceps as big as my thighs,” Biden exclaimed when he saw the man’s exposed upper arm.
Seventy-five percent of those 65 and older have gotten at least one shot and more than half are fully vaccinated, according to the government.
Using federal guidance on priority populations and projections on vaccine shipments, states have been making their own decisions about when residents can get vaccinated.
Psaki said the faster timeline is possible because of the increased vaccine supply and distribution points.
During the administration’s weekly call with governors on Tuesday, COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said more than 28 million doses will be distributed across the country this week.
In remarks on the state of vaccinations later in the afternoon, Biden is expected to tout that the United States is the first country to administer 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, which puts the country on track to meet the president’s goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office.
More:When will everyone be vaccinated for COVID-19? Here’s how the vaccine rollout is going
Biden announced last week that 90% of all American adults would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by April 19 and directed the federal government to ensure that the same percentage of Americans would live within five miles of a vaccination site. The timeline moved up his previous goal of making all U.S. adults eligible for a vaccine by May 1.
Oregon announced Tuesday that all residents age 16 and older can get the vaccine as of April 19, leaving Hawaii as the only state that hasn’t moved up the May 1 deadline.
New York and Maryland will open vaccine eligibility to those who are 16 years or older on Tuesday, the day after 12 states did the same as the country continues in its race against spreading variants. The two states will join a dozen others that opened up vaccinations to all over 16:
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
More:No ‘consistent rationale’: Why vaccinations are open to all in some states and not others
More:Tracking COVID-19 vaccine distribution by state: How many people have been vaccinated in the US?
Biden’s announcement comes as the U.S. continues to report a high level of cases, with 452,636 cases reported in the week ending Monday, a 20% increase from two weeks earlier.
The U.S. has continued to ramp up its pace of daily vaccinations, with an average of more than three million doses administered a day, compared with less than one million in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Biden administration announced over the week that the U.S. hit 4 million doses administered in a 24-hour period, a new record the president is expected to tout during his remarks.
Contributing: Maureen Groppe.