WASHINGTON — At least 90 percent of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations by April 19 as a string of states expand who can get the shots and thousands of additional pharmacies start receiving doses, President Joe Biden said Monday.
The federal government will expand the number of pharmacies receiving shipments of the vaccines from 17,000 to 40,000 by mid-April, he said. The White House estimates that as a result, 90 percent of adults in the U.S. will have vaccination sites within 5 miles of their homes.
At least 31 states have announced that they will open vaccinations to all adults in the coming days. New York said it would vaccinate anyone over age 30 starting Tuesday. Biden had previously directed states to make all adults eligible by May 1 and said the remaining 10 percent of adults would still be eligible by that date.
The Biden administration has been in a race to get the vaccines into as many arms as possible as new variants of the coronavirus spread and the number of cases steadily increases. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, warned Monday of "impending doom" if people don't heed guidelines about mask-wearing and social distancing even with the increasing availability of vaccines.
Biden echoed the warning.
"We are still in a war with this deadly virus," he said. "We're bolstering our defenses, but this war is far from won."
Biden called on governors to reinstate mask mandates and said some states should pause their reopening efforts.
The U.S. has been administering around 3 million vaccine shots a day over the past few days, said Jeffrey Zients, the White House Covid-19 coordinator. As of Monday, 73 percent of seniors had received their first doses and more than 1 in 3 adults had received their first doses.
Biden said the U.S. will open a dozen additional federally run mass vaccination centers and spend $100 million to get vaccinations to people with disabilities and those at high risk of dying from the virus.