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Biden moving vaccine eligibility date for all adults to April 19

President Joe Biden walks over to speak to

President Joe Biden walks over to speak to members of the media after arriving on the Ellipse on the National Mall after spending the weekend at Camp David on Monday in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that every American adult will be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 on April 19 — two weeks earlier than previously projected — as the federal government continues to ramp up distribution of vaccines to states.

"No more confusing rules. No more confusing restrictions. My message today is a simple one," Biden said from the White House. "Many states have already opened up to all adults. But beginning April 19 every adult in every state, every adult in this country, is eligible to get in line to get a COVID vaccination."

Last month Biden directed states to open their vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1 but dozens of states, including New York, have already moved up the eligibility time frame to April amid an increase in vaccine supply, and as the majority of priority groups, including front line workers, seniors and teachers, have received at least one vaccine dose.

On Tuesday New York moved forward with a previously announced plan to open up vaccinations to all adults over the age of 16.

Delivering a status update on vaccinations, Biden said that more than 150 million shots have been administered since he took office on Jan. 20, putting the president on track to deliver the 200 million shots he has promised will be administered by the end of his first 100 days in office. The United States is vaccinating an average of 3 million adults per day, compared with the average of about 1 million when he took office, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans has received at least one vaccination shot, and nearly 1 in 4 American adults is fully vaccinated, according to the White House. Among seniors ages 65 and older, about 75% have received at least one vaccination dose and more than 55% are fully vaccinated.

Biden said that by the end of March, about 80% of teachers and K-8 school personnel have received at least one dose of one of three federally approved vaccines.

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Despite the uptick in vaccination rates, Biden said more needed to be done to ensure all eligible Americans are vaccinated.

"Even moving at the record speed we're moving at, we're not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million Americans. This is going to take time," Biden said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters before Biden’s announcement, said the new April 19 target "doesn’t mean" eligible adults will receive their vaccine that same day, rather "it means they can join the line that day if they have not already done that beforehand."

Psaki said the Biden administration is urging unvaccinated seniors to schedule their vaccinations before the eligibility pool opens up to all adults.

"This is the time to go now, to ensure seniors, who are your loved ones, your family members … go now because the lines are going to become longer. There are going to be more people waiting," Psaki said.

Biden, pointing to the spread of virus variants, continued to urge the public to wear masks and adhere to social distancing restrictions.

"The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight and think we're at the finish line already," Biden said. "We aren't at the finish line."

Earlier in the day, Biden toured a pop-up vaccination center in Alexandria, Virginia, where he told those on hand that he expected a "significant portion" of the U.S. population will be vaccinated by this summer.

Asked by a reporter if he believed the worst of the pandemic was behind the country, Biden said: "I think if everyone continues down the road we're on now, it will be behind us. But it's not over yet. We're in a situation where, I believe, by the end of the summer we'll have a significant portion of American public vaccinated."

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