US President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that all adults across the United States will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines by April 19 — well ahead of the already ambitious previous target.
The White House said Biden is shifting the deadline for full eligibility from May 1 to April 19 after rapid progress in all 50 states in the vaccine rollouts.
A senior administration official, who did not want to be identified, said the announcement would be made by the president later Tuesday.
If the target is met, this would mean an end to restrictions by age, health issues or other categories for people wanting to get coronavirus vaccines. It would not necessarily mean that anyone could get a shot immediately, as distribution remains a work in progress.
Biden was scheduled to visit a vaccination site in Virginia, just outside of Washington, on Tuesday, before delivering remarks on the topic at the White House.
The Democrat immediately put mass vaccinations at the center of his agenda after taking office in a bid to quickly halt the pandemic and launch the US economy into a powerful comeback.
An initial goal of administering one million vaccine doses every day has long been surpassed and on Monday senior White House pandemic advisor Andy Slavitt said the United States is “now averaging 3.1 million shots per day over the most recent seven-day period.”
“Over the weekend, there were more than 4 million recorded vaccinations in a single day for the first time,” he said.
CNN and NBC reported that Biden will announce Tuesday that the United States has hit the milestone of 150 million shots in arms in the first 75 days of his administration. The original goal had been to get to 100 million within the first 100 days but that has now been moved to 200 million, a figure also likely to be topped.
Concerns over new surge
Countering the stream of good news from the White House is a steady rise in Covid-19 infections, as people let down their guard, following more than a year of mask-wearing, social distancing and restrictions on businesses and entertainment.
Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that youths are leading the resurgence.
“We are seeing this occur predominantly in younger adults,” Walensky said Monday. “Many of these, as I noted, are related to extracurricular activities and youth sports.”
Almost 556,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, by the far the highest toll reported in any country. On Monday, the Johns Hopkins University tracker reported 79,075 new confirmed cases and 607 deaths.