The president changed the deadline for states to open Covid-19 vaccinations to all adults from May 1 to April 19.
WASHINGTON (CN)— Speaking after a tour of a mass vaccination site just outside the nation’s capital, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that every American adult will be eligible to line up for a Covid-19 vaccine by April 19.
“No more confusing rules. No more confusing restrictions,” Biden said at the White House. “My message today is a simple one. Many states have already opened up to all adults, but beginning April 19 every adult in every state, every adult in this country is eligible to get in line to get a Covid vaccination.”
In mid-March, the president announced all U.S. adults would be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination by May 1, but he said Tuesday that deadline has been moved up because of the accessibility offered by governors who expanded eligibility and the White House Covid-19 response team’s hard work.
Over 150 million Covid-19 vaccine shots have been given as of Monday. The U.S. is averaging 3 million a day, with a record 4 million shots going into arms last Saturday.
The U.S. is the first country in the world to have administered 150 million shots and the first to fully vaccinate over 62 million people, the president noted, adding that more than 75% of Americans over the age of 65 have gotten a shot and 55% of them are fully vaccinated.
“Up from 8% when we took office. That’s a dramatic turnaround and critical because seniors account for 80% of all Covid deaths,” Biden said.
Earlier Tuesday, Biden toured a mass vaccination site at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, alongside several officials including White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients. The president stood among a group receiving their vaccinations and asked how long those administering shots had been volunteering at the site, while emphasizing the need for better accessibility to the shot.
Neighborhood Health Medical Director Martha Welman told Biden that every shot allocated to the site had found its way into a patient’s arm. Every dose given to the facility was part of the Biden administration’s program to equitably distribute vaccines to local community health centers.
Biden said when he thought of equitable distribution, he thought of his mother, who he called an intelligent woman many people admired. If setting up vaccine appointments had involved an extensive amount of technology, she probably would struggle to complete her own registration — adding the same was true for many Americans around the country, resulting in potential roadblocks to vaccination.
Later at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, Biden called the Virginia Theological Seminary an example of a diverse group of people coalescing together to combat Covid-19. All over the country, he said these partnerships were founded with a special focus on vaccinating seniors of all backgrounds.
“It’s an example of America at its finest and they’re all meeting what Pope Francis calls the moral obligation,” Biden said.
While Biden largely lauded the turnaround in federal response to the pandemic, he also urged vigilance for Americans enduring over a year of precautions due to the virus. He said several variants of Covid-19, some of which have proven more infectious and deadly, are spreading quickly and national hospitalization rates are no longer declining.
Covid-19 deaths, while still significantly lower than January levels, have increased recently in some areas of the country, Biden said.
“Let me explain it in a single word: time,” Biden said. “Even moving at the record speed we’re moving at, we’re not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million Americans. This is going to take time.”