President Biden will direct states to make all U.S. adults eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine no later than May 1, senior administration officials said Thursday, in a preview of Biden’s prime-time address Thursday night.
The Biden administration is also aiming for families and friends to be able to gather in small groups by July 4 — in time to celebrate Independence Day, said senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the speech.
“The fight is far from over. We still have a lot of work to do. But together, unified, we can defeat this pandemic and we can all celebrate a more normal Fourth of July with families and friends,” Biden is expected to say in his first prime-time address as president, where he will also touch on how his administration plans to increase access to the vaccine and steps being taken to reopen schools.
Biden will use his authority via the Department of Health and Human Services to direct states to make all adult Americans eligible for the vaccine by the May 1 deadline, officials said. The administration is confident it will make the goal because of a push to increase the vaccine supply, the number of vaccinators and the number of places people can receive the vaccine, they said.
To help on those fronts, the administration will double the number of pharmacies where the vaccine is available and also double the number of federally run mass vaccination centers. Biden is also expected to announce in his speech the deployment of more than 4,000 active-duty National Guard troops to help with vaccine administration, bringing the total to 6,000.
Dentists, physician assistants, veterinarians and medical school students will also be added to the list of eligible vaccinators, officials said.
Biden will make clear that Americans will need to continue to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautions as recommended by the CDC — and that he will not be recommending “large events” for the Fourth of July, officials said.
“But it does mean that we can once again have an Independence Day with small gatherings and celebrations, and that’s a big step in the right direction,” one senior administration official said. “We believe that, if we do our part, we will be in a much better place by Independence Day, and we can start to resume more of our normal activities.”