President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he is moving up his deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by almost two weeks, but said Americans must remain on a “war footing” to beat the virus.
With all states having opened eligibility to the public or at least having announced when they plan to do so, Biden announced that every adult in the country will be eligible to be vaccinated by April 19, instead of his original deadline of May 1.
Speaking at the White House after visiting a vaccination center in Alexandria, Virginia, Biden said that 150 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered within his first 75 days in office, in line with a stated goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.
While the President was pleased with the progress, he stressed the US must continue to ramp up efforts to beat the pandemic.
“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 this virus. And that’s what we’ve been doing, getting enough vaccine supply, mobilizing more vaccinators, creating more places to get vaccinated, and we’re now administering an average of 3 million shots per day, over 20 million shots a week,” Biden said.
Biden touted how the US reported more than 4 million doses of coronavirus vaccine administered in a single 24-hour period last weekend. That record came at the same time federal officials put Johnson & Johnson officials in charge of a Baltimore facility, which it stopped from making another vaccine by AstraZeneca after an ingredient error ruined potentially 15 million one-shot doses.
As other nations clamor for more shots, including from the US, Biden said Tuesday that the US is the first country to administer 150 million shots. According to Our World in Data, the US had administered more than 165 million doses as of Monday night, with China in second having administered a little less than 140 million shots.
The President said more than 75% of people over the age of 65 have gotten a shot and over 55% of them are fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a number that was at 8% when he took office.
Tuesday’s update advances Biden’s call from last week that 90% of adults will be eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, as well as have a vaccination site within five miles of where they live. Biden said the number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy vaccination program was increasing from the current 17,000 locations to 40,000.
The President also said last week his administration would open 12 additional federally-run mass vaccination sites. In the past week, new vaccination sites have been announced in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Maryland, South Carolina, Colorado and Minnesota.
CNN has previously reported that all 50 states have announced when they plan to open vaccinations to everyone who is eligible if they haven’t done so already. New Jersey, South Dakota and Nebraska have announced plans to expand eligibility to those 16 years and older before Biden’s new deadline, and other states currently plan to open eligibility by May 1. Biden is expected to credit the governors’ effort to meet his May 1 deadline for this change.
In Alexandria, the President said he hopes the US will have enough vaccine doses that it will be able to begin distributing doses to other countries “pretty soon.”
“Hopefully we’re gonna get good enough pretty soon where we have enough that we can give the rest of the world. Because this is something that’s not just, we could solve it here in America if we don’t solve it around the world. You can’t build a wall or a fence high enough to keep out a virus,” Biden said.
Tuesday afternoon’s announcement comes as the Biden administration continues to ramp up its national vaccination effort with a focus on distributing the vaccines equitably across the country to at-risk and underserved areas.
Biden has used federal funds to create new community vaccination centers across the country and launch mobile vaccination clinics and provider partnerships to reach under-served urban areas and rural communities.
His administration also recently launched a national vaccine promotional campaign aimed at encouraging hesitant Americans to get immunized using funds from his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 economic relief package.
As more and more Americans get vaccinated, the Biden administration is working on creating a set of standards for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, CNN has reported.
An administration official previously told CNN they are working with a range of companies on the standards, including non-profits and tech companies, and said they are likely still weeks away from being finalized.
Biden has stressed that while the country is now vaccinating a record number of Americans, the battle against Covid-19 is “far from won” as cases are once again on the rise.
The President has called on every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain – and in some cases reinstate – mask mandates. His plea comes as some states have lifted requirements for masks and allowed businesses to return to full capacity against the guidance from public health experts.
More than 555,600 Americans have died from Covid-19 as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. Approximately 167 million vaccines have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes and Jason Hoffman contributed to this report.