Washington —announced Tuesday that the deadline for adult eligibility for nationwide is being moved up to April 19. Mr. Biden had previously called for states and territories to make all adults eligible for shots by May 1.
As of Tuesday, 36 states have opened eligibility for vaccinations to people ages 16 and older, while 12 more and the District Columbia are already set to do so by April 19. In other words, most states were already on track to match the president’s new April 19 deadline before he announced it.
It is unclear how moving up a deadline set by the president actually changes the distribution of the vaccines or how quickly they’re injected into Americans’ arms. It was also not immediately clear Tuesday if the new, earlier deadline also signals that vaccine supply is arriving faster or if there are new plans to more quickly vaccinate Americans waiting to get their shots.
Several states and major metropolitan areas, including Washington, are struggling to meet high demand for shots, leaving residents who are currently eligible scrambling to find vaccine options in neighboring Maryland or Virginia.
Mr. Biden said last month there would beto vaccinate every American by the end of May.
The announcement comes as vaccinations continue at a notable pace, even as COVID-19 infection rates are on the rise once again in several states. The president warned that variants are spreading, and cases are going up in some places.
“Let me explain it in a single word: Time. Time. Even moving at the record speed we’re moving at, we’re not even half way through vaccinating over 300 million Americans. This is going to take time,” he said.
Mr. Biden urged people to continue to be cautious, to practice social distancing, and mask up.
“We’re still in a life and death race with this virus,” he said.
He also pleaded with seniors in particular to get vaccinated, and urged younger people to encourage family members and neighbors. At least 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been among seniors.
The U.S. crossed 150 million shots on Monday, the president also announced. He has set a goal of 200 million shots in his first 100 days. More than 75% of those over age 65 have received at least one shot, he said. He also said that roughly 80% of teachers and child care staff received at least one shot by the end of March. The president had set a goal of having all teachers receive at least one shot by the end of March.
Earlier Tuesday, the president visited a vaccination clinic at a seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that more than 167 million vaccinations have been administered since shots began being distributed late last year. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans, 32.4%, have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose so far, the CDC said.