President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the US will have enough vaccine supply for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than previously expected.
Just weeks ago, the Biden administration said it expected to be able to inoculate every American adult by the end of July — but due to the collaboration between the two pharmaceutical giants and other actions, officials have been able to revise that forecast. Earlier on Tuesday, Merck & Co. agreed to help produce the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, a partnership Biden likened to efforts seen during World War II.
“This country will have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May — by the end of May,” Biden said during a briefing at the White House. “That’s progress. Important progress.”
Johnson & Johnson will also begin operating its manufacturing facilities 24/7, he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the White House announced that the federal government increased weekly shipments of the vaccine from 14.5 million to 15.2 million doses. Along with the 2.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use over the weekend, states and territories are receiving a total of 18 million doses this week, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
During his remarks, Biden urged Americans to stay vigilant and continue wearing masks and social distancing and called on the Senate to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package approved by the House on Saturday. That bill includes a new round of direct checks of up to $1,400 each to Americans and billions of dollars for schools, nationwide vaccinations, and state and local governments.
The president also announced that he was directing states to prioritize K–12 teachers and staff and childcare providers in vaccinations, saying he wanted every educator to receive at least one dose by the end of March. Biden said his administration will also be using the federal pharmacy program to prioritize vaccines for those workers starting next week and for the rest of the month.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot let our guard down now or assure that victory is inevitable,” Biden said.