Biden looks to fulfill increasingly ambitious vaccine promises

WASHINGTON — One day after President Biden announced that he would instruct all states to make every American adult eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by May 1, his administration announced several measures to facilitate the ambitious goal, which has required unprecedented logistical organization.

“We need to make it easier for every American to get vaccinated,” said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, during a Friday briefing with reporters on the state of the pandemic. “May 1 is an absolute deadline,” he reiterated, though there could be days or even weeks between a person becoming eligible to receive a vaccine and actually becoming vaccinated. That is bound to be especially true in dense regions of the Northeast and the West Coast, where demand has been especially high.

About 2.2 million people are being vaccinated daily, an increase of about 1.3 million daily vaccinations since Biden was inaugurated in January.

So far, most states have opened up vaccine distribution to the elderly, people with preexisting medical conditions and some frontline workers, such as doctors and teachers.

That has left millions of Americans waiting, with varying degrees of patience. Private initiatives like Dr. B have sprung up to match people with vaccine doses that might otherwise go unused. Some 1.6 million people have signed up for that service, an indication of how eager Americans are to regain some measure of pre-pandemic life with the arrival of warm weather.

A person receives a shot of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a community vaccination event in Martinsburg, West Virginia on March 11, 2021.  (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
A person receives a COVID-19 shot at a community vaccination event in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Thursday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The coronavirus vaccines were developed through Operation Warp Speed, an $18 billion partnership between private industry and the Trump administration. Former President Donald Trump and his supporters have claimed that Biden has not given sufficient credit to his predecessor for having those vaccines developed in rapid time. (White House senior coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt praised Operation Warp Speed as “a great thing” earlier this week.)

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