Biden Saves Summer With Major Vaccine Announcement
President Joe Biden came out swinging on the vaccine front Tuesday with an announcement that he’s invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up dose manufacturing with a goal of having enough supply to vaccinate all U.S. adults by the end of May.
If all goes as planned, life could be on its way to normal in time for the summer. It feels like decades have passed since concerts, bars and hugging grandma were acceptable activities, but Tuesday’s news could again make those things a safe reality sooner than we expected.
In an ongoing effort to get kids back into classroom seats, Biden also called on states to put teachers and school staff at the top of the priority list. The president wants at least one shot in the arm of every school employee and child care worker by the end of March, which coincides well with the schedule laid out in California’s most recent school reopening proposal.
Stressing the importance of in-person learning, Biden said:
“As yet another move to help accelerate the safe reopening of schools, let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is. And that means getting essential workers who provide that service — educators, school staff, child care workers — get them vaccinated immediately. They’re essential workers.”
The accelerated vaccine manufacturing and distribution will be made possible by a partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, as directed under the DPA. The one-dose, refrigerator-stable J&J vaccine was approved over the weekend for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tempering excitement over a third vaccine option was news that J&J was only prepared to distribute a few million doses right away. The Merck partnership will boost that production.
Distribution is just one part of the process — getting shots into arms will require massive coordination with qualified people and vaccination sites. Thankfully, the Bay Area has been fairly proactive in establishing necessary infrastructure with a combination of community and large-scale sites just waiting for an increase in supply.
It may take well into June and maybe July to roll the vaccine out to most adults, but the one-dose option reduces complications and the overall timeline.
Biden’s decisive steps ensure we’ll see at least a couple months of sunshine with friends and family, and those simple pleasures take on whole new meaning after a year of isolation.