April 7 (UPI) — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he’s moving up his national COVID-19 vaccine deadline, for all residents in all states to be eligible to receive the shots, by almost two weeks.
Biden formally declared he would move the deadline from May 1 to April 19, following a visit to a federal vaccination site in Alexandria, Va.
“I’m announcing today that we’re moving that date up from May 1 to April 19, nationwide,” Biden said. “That means, by no later than April 19, in every part of this country, every adult over the age of 18 … will be eligible to be vaccinated. No more confusing rules. No more confusing restrictions.”
Biden’s deadline has been voluntary, but it has pressured some states in recent weeks to move more quickly to expand vaccine eligibility guidelines.
Most states have already announced plans to open eligibility to all adults by April 19. Only Hawaii and Oregon have not. Biden established the original May 1 deadline last month, when he called on states, tribes and territories to make all adults eligible to be vaccinated.
Biden said last week that 90% of U.S. adults were on pace to be eligible for the vaccine by April 19. He added that the number of pharmacies participating in the federal vaccination program would rise from 17,000 locations to 40,000.
Biden also announced Tuesday that the United States has reached 150 million shots administered within his first 75 days in office. He has set a goal of 200 million vaccinations by his 100th day in office, April 30, after initially promising 100 million.
“At the time, some said 100 million shots was ‘too ambitious,’ and then they said, ‘It wasn’t ambitious enough.’ Well, we got to keep moving,” Biden said. “If we could raise it up higher, I’d do that as well. But we know — we know what we have to do: We have to ramp up a whole-of-government approach that rallies the whole country and puts us on a war footing to truly beat the virus.”
An average of about 3.1 million doses per day are given nationwide, White House senior pandemic adviser Andy Slavitt said Monday. He added that 75% of seniors have received at least one shot, and more than half are fully vaccinated. Overall, more than 40% of adults have had at least one shot, he said.
Biden warned that while the vaccine rollout has been successful, it still takes time for people to be fully protected against the virus and Americans must remain vigilant in preventing the spread.
“Let me be deadly earnest with you: Better times are ahead. And as I’ve said before, we can have a safe, happy Fourth of July with your family and friends, in small groups in your backyard. The real question is: How much death, disease, and misery are we going to see between now and then?” Biden said.