President Joe Biden said he expects anyone who wants a vaccine to be able to get one by the spring and he upped his vaccination goal for his first 100 days in office.
Biden said Monday he now thinks the country can administer 1.5 million shots a day in the coming weeks and give 150 million vaccinations over the next 100 days, “with the grace of god.”
In December, Biden set a goal of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days and at the time, no vaccine had been cleared for use. But with states ramping up their vaccination efforts in recent weeks, the country is already averaging Biden's goal of around 1 million shots a day.
In order to reach his new goal, Biden said the federal government is going to have to set up more vaccination sites, hire more people to administer the vaccines, and ensure there are enough supplies of things like syringes. He is asking Congress for more than $400 billion to fund those efforts.
“It is going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we've ever tried in this country, but I think we can do that,” Biden said. He said that by summer “we're gonna be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity” including making the vaccine available for children.
Biden warned that it will still take time for America to defeat the virus — responding to criticism of his recent remarks that the trajectory of the virus won't be changed for months.
“It is going to take time, it is going to take a heck of a lot of time,” Biden said, adding “we are in this for a while.”
Because the two approved vaccines require two doses to get the full benefits, 150 million shots would provide protection to 75 million Americans — about 23 percent of the population. Public health officials, including those working with the Biden administration, have said it would take more than 70 percent of the population to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
State officials have increasingly complained about a lack of supply of the vaccine and items like syringes. Officials have also complained about a lack of consistent information from the federal government about when and the quantity of doses they will received. Biden said he has been working with the vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, to produce more vaccines in a “relatively short period of time.”
Biden's ramped up timeline is still less optimistic than the one that had been touted by the previous president. The Trump administration's Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar had said in December that the general public would be able to get the vaccine in their local pharmacy as soon as late February. Azar also pledged 20 million people would get the vaccine by the end of the year — a milestone the country only reached on Sunday.