Every U.S. adult must be vaccinated by May 1: Why this is critical to reopen

In a year of never-ending dark moments amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a light has been cast on the path out: a vaccine. After appearing to be a far-off reality earlier in the pandemic, it is now becoming increasingly available to people throughout the U.S.

President Joseph R. Biden announced on March 11 that all Americans will be eligible for the vaccine by May. This comes after months of troubles with vaccine distribution, including issues with shortages.

States have been mostly responsible for planning rollouts, guided by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. Most states originally approached the distributions by giving them to the most vulnerable demographics, such as essential workers and senior citizens.

Many states have since begun to change their approach to delivering the shots. Connecticut is one example, with Governor Ned Lamont announcing an accelerated age-based plan on March 15. Because of this, all adults over the age of 16 in Connecticut will be eligible to register for the vaccine on April 5, including out-of-state college students who will be attending school in Connecticut.

According to a March 17 COVID Task Force email sent to members of the university community, the University of New Haven is working with local health authorities to provide students access to the vaccine.

The growth of vaccine access follows a rise in the average number of doses administered in the U.S. each day. As of March 22, 2.49 million average doses are given per day, up over 1.5 million since Biden’s inauguration.

The push to vaccinate young adults is in response to reports showing that younger age groups are one of the largest sources of viral spread. For example, more than 120,000 COVID cases have been connected to colleges and universities since Jan. 1.

Vaccine distribution is an important step for the country’s path towards normalization: more vaccinations mean fewer restrictions. By giving the vaccine to demographics that are more likely to spread the virus, the number of daily cases may be reduced. The U.S. will eventually need to have between 70% and 80% of the population vaccinated to “stop the pandemic,” according to University of Connecticut cell biology professor Pedro Mendes.

While states, such as Texas and Mississippi, have ended statewide mask mandates, they have done so with the risk of another resurgence in cases.

President Biden’s push for accelerating distribution is a promising sign for all Americans; it shows that the administration believes in reopening as quickly and safely as possible. However, there are many barriers that lie in the way of this.

One is vaccine skepticism, with some polls suggesting that 32% of the U.S. population will not get the shot. Much of this hesitancy is because of fears of side effects associated with the shots.

Despite fears, the data shows that the vaccines are largely safe, with research indicating that each has a very good safety profile. Side effects, if a person exhibits them, are minor and indicative of a healthy immune response. While it is a legitimate concern among Americans, this fear should not deter them from getting the vaccine.

It is critical that the country remains on track and follows President Biden’s call for every American adult to be vaccinated by May 1. That would allow the country to take a major step towards redeveloping a normalized society and emerging from the pandemic.