Biden to direct states to make all adults eligible for COVID vaccines by May 1, official says

WASHINGTON — In his first prime-time address as president Thursday night, Joe Biden will direct all states to make all American adults eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines no later than May 1, according to a senior administration official.

And if Americans “all do our part” in the coming weeks, friends and families will be able to join together in small groups in time for Fourth of July celebrations, the president plans to say.

“The next phase of our wartime effort will help get us closer to normal by July 4, Independence Day,” the official said. 

Biden will give his address from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. EST one year after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 breakout a pandemic, and hours after the president signed his $1.9 trillion stimulus package into law. 

President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, looks up after signing the American Rescue Plan. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

Biden will speak about “where we’ve been, how far we’ve come” and “the path ahead of the United States,” the official said. 

The May 1 directive comes after Biden last week said the U.S. will have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May, two months sooner than expected. 

The administration official stressed Biden’s latest directive does not mean all Americans will receive a shot immediately in May, but they should be eligible. 

The president will also announce new steps to increase the number of vaccinators and places where people can get vaccinated. That includes deploying 4,000 additional military troops to support vaccination efforts, bringing the total number deployed to 6,000, and expanding the pool of vaccinators to include dentists, paramedics, veterinarians and other medical professionals. 

Biden will also announce the federal government will begin distributing the vaccine directly to 700 additional community health centers, bringing the total to 950, and doubling the number of pharmacies where the vaccine is available to 20,000. The number of federally run mass vaccination centers will also be doubled, Biden plans to say.

To accelerate vaccinations, the federal government will launch a new federal website to help set up vaccination appointments, Biden will say, according to the official. 

Biden will also talk about the reopening of schools, including steps to help schools implement regular COVID-19 screening tests following passage of the stimulus bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan. 

Around one-quarter of all Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccination, including 65% of Americans 65 or older, the most vulnerable population to the virus. When Biden entered office, only 8% of seniors had been vaccinated. 

The nation’s vaccine supply received a boost this week when the White House announced the purchase of an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The additional doses, when added to the vaccines from other sources, is more than enough to inoculate every American.

Johnson & Johnson has partnered with Merck, another pharmaceutical company, to help accelerate the production of vaccines.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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