Biden sets May goal for adult shots
Gives teachers and child-care workers priority
U.S. President Joe Biden called for states to give all teachers and child-care workers at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month in a fresh drive to reopen schools, and said all there will be enough shots for American adults by the end of May, up from July.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced that Johnson & Johnson would deliver “at or near” 100 million doses by the end of May, as compared to a previous pledge of a total of 100 million doses by the end of June.
That acceleration — details of which were not provided — along with J&J'S vaccine authorization led Biden to move up his timetable for when there will be enough supply for all adults in the U.S. The previous timetable didn't include J&J.
Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., which make the other two authorized U.S. shots, have said they'll deliver enough doses for 200 million Americans by the end of May.
Biden said he hopes the U.S. would be back to normal “by this time next year” but said he'd been cautioned not to provide a specific date “because we don't know for sure.”
Biden called for state and local governments to prioritize teachers, school support staff and child-care workers for vaccinations, as he pushes for schools to reopen safely with full-time classroom instruction.
The pace of U.S. vaccinations is increasing, but a national decline in new cases has stalled. Meanwhile, several states are lifting restrictions on daily life, including mask mandates, as new, more contagious variants of the virus spread — threatening to reignite the pandemic before vaccines take hold.
“We can reopen schools if the right steps are taken even before employees are vaccinated. But time and again, we've heard from educators and parents that have anxieties about that,” Biden said.
“My challenge to all states, territories and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, child-care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March,” he said.
A federal program that steers shots to pharmacies will now prioritize school and child workers, he said.
Biden's health team has urged Americans to take whichever of the vaccines that is available to them first, in a move to head-off concerns or comparisons of their viability. While the J&J shot is less effective than Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines at preventing infection entirely, clinical trials have shown it can stop hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.