US President Joe Biden on Tuesday moved up the Covid-19 vaccine eligibility target for all American adults to April 19 but warned that with new virus variants spreading “we’re still in a life-and-death race” with Covid.
Biden directed US states to widen the vaccine eligibility to people 18 or older by April 19, two weeks earlier than the May 1 deadline he announced previously.
This means Americans no longer need to check with state and local websites to see whether they qualify. “No more confusing rules,” said Biden.
“What we do now is going to determine how many people we’ll save or lose before we get to July 4,” Biden said, referring to American Independence Day.
Vaccine supplies and efficiency in getting shots into arms have increased dramatically in the race to get more people inoculated as more contagious virus variants circulate.
When vaccine doses were in shorter supply, states initially limited distribution to high-risk groups, such as the elderly and frontline healthcare workers, and then gradually opened up vaccines to other age and at risk groups.
Upon taking office in January, Biden set a goal of delivering 100 million shots into people’s arms within his first 100 days in office, which is the end of April. That goal has since been doubled to 200 million.
More than 167 million vaccine doses have been administered in the country. Four in 10 Americans have had at least one vaccine dose, a rate far ahead of most countries.
White House spokesman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday, when confirming “everyone is eligible around the country”, more than 28 million Covid-19 vaccine doses will be available this week in the US.
Cumulatively over the past three weeks the administration has sent out 90 million doses of the vaccine, she said.
On the controversial subject of vaccine ID, Psaki said the Biden administration does not support the idea of a federal mandate requiring Americans to carry vaccination credentials, which has been proposed to make air travel safer.
“The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” she said. “There will be no federal vaccinations database, and no federal mandate requiring everyone to maintain a single vaccination credential.”