USA TODAY International Edition

Biden moves up vaccine eligibilit­y

White House: All adults ‘ can join the line’ April 19

- Courtney Subramania­n and Maureen Groppe

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he moved up his call for all U. S. adults to become eligible to receive a coronaviru­s vaccine to April 19, almost two weeks sooner than his initial goal of May 1.

“Everyone is going to be able to do this before the month is out,” Biden said, touring a pop- up vaccinatio­n site at the Virginia Theologica­l Seminary in Alexandria before delivering a warning not to become complacent about the virus.

Biden wants to eliminate any confusion for Americans about whether they are eligible to be vaccinated, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “That doesn’t mean they will get it that day,” Psaki said. “It means they can join the line.”

The administra­tion is sending a message to seniors – one of the most vulnerable population­s – to get their shots because lines are about to become longer. Seventy- five percent of those 65 and older have gotten at least one shot and more than half are fully vaccinated, according to the government.

“You’re doing the right thing,” Biden told Virginians waiting to get vaccinated.

He jokingly asked a man about to receive a shot if it would help if Biden

held his hand.

“Man, you’ve got biceps as big as my thighs,” Biden exclaimed when he saw the man’s exposed upper arm.

Using federal guidance on priority population­s and projection­s on vaccine shipments, states have been making their own decisions about when residents can get vaccinated.

Psaki said the faster timeline is possible because of the increased vaccine supply and distributi­on points.

During the administra­tion’s weekly call with governors Tuesday, COVID- 19 response coordinato­r Jeff Zients said more than 28 million doses will be distribute­d this week.

In remarks on the state of vaccinatio­ns at the White House later in the afternoon, Biden boasted that the United States is the first country to administer 150 million COVID- 19 vaccine doses, on track to meet the president’s goal of administer­ing 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office.

“But there’s also some bad news,” Biden said.

New variants are spreading quickly, in part because it takes time to get everyone vaccinated and also, he said, because too many people “think we’re at the finish line already.”

The real question, he said, is how much death, disease and misery there will be until most people are vaccinated.

“We’re still in a life and death race against this virus,” Biden said.

Biden announced last week that 90% of all American adults would be eligible for the COVID- 19 vaccine by April 19 and directed the federal government to ensure that the same percentage of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccinatio­n site.

Oregon announced Tuesday that all residents age 16 and older can get the vaccine as of April 19, leaving Hawaii as the only state that hasn’t moved up the May 1 deadline.

New York and Maryland opened vaccine eligibilit­y to those 16 or older Tuesday, the day after 12 states did the same:

● Alabama

● Florida

● Idaho

● Iowa

● Kentucky

● Nebraska

● Nevada

● New Mexico

● Michigan

● South Dakota

● Tennessee

● Wisconsin

The USA continues to report a high level of coronaviru­s cases – 452,636 in the week ending Monday, a 20% increase from two weeks earlier.

The nation has ramped up its pace of daily vaccinatio­ns: an average of more than 3 million doses administer­ed a day, compared with less than 1 million in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Biden administra­tion announced that the USA hit 4 million doses administer­ed in a 24- hour period, a record.

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