WASHINGTON — President Biden pledged Tuesday that the federal government will have enough doses of the coronavirus vaccine to inoculate all adult Americans by the end of May.
The Biden administration had previously pledged to have enough vaccines to inculcate most adults — roughly 300 million people — by late summer.
The new announcement came on the heels of an agreement between the Biden administration and the drug maker Merck that will allow the company, which has a long history of vaccine development and manufacturing, to help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s recently authorized one-dose vaccine. Johnson & Johnson recently pledged that it will deliver 100 million doses of its shot in the first half of 2021.
“About three weeks ago we were able to say that we would have enough vaccine supply for adults by the end of July,” he said in a press conference. “I’m pleased to announce today … this country will have enough vaccine supply … for every adult in America by the end of May — by the end of May. That’s progress.”
Biden also directed states to start vaccinating every teacher in America by the end of March, along with other school employees. He promised that teachers and school staff will be allowed, starting this month, to make a vaccine appointment at a pharmacy chain, like CVS or Walgreens. In many states only older adults can currently make a vaccine appointment at a chain pharmacy.
It’s not clear, however, whether all adults willing to be vaccinated will actually be able to get a shot by May. Lack of supply has been just one of the factors slowing down the current mass vaccination campaign, Biden acknowledged.
“It’s not enough to have the vaccine supply, we need vaccinators — people to put the shots in people’s arms,” he said.
The Biden administration has stood up a number of efforts to help states get shots in arms, including mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up mass vaccination sites.
Biden did not highlight any new efforts to increase the number of vaccinators. Instead he touted his coronavirus response package, which includes $20 billion for vaccine administration funding.