All adults in the US are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

The last states with restrictions just dropped them.

Everyone in the U.S. over the age of 16 is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

“For months I’ve been telling Americans to get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” U.S. President Joe Biden said during an NBC vaccination special that aired on April 18. “Well, it’s your turn, now.”

The challenge: Since the approval of the first shots in December 2020, it’s been up to individual states to decide when residents were eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

Some states chose to start with healthcare workers and people with jobs that put them in the high-risk category; others simply began by vaccinating older residents first.

These differing eligibility requirements — and frequent changes to them — left many Americans wondering when they’d be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s caused a lot of confusion, and the last thing we want is confusion,” Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told Kaiser Health News in March.

A new era: On March 10, Alaska became the first state to drop its restrictions, making any person over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Over the past month, other states have followed suit.

On April 19, the final six states with restrictions — Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont — dropped them, meaning all adults living in the U.S., Washington D.C., or Puerto Rico are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s truly historic that we have already reached this milestone,” Nandita Mani, the associate medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Washington Medical Center, told the New York Times.

The next hurdle: Experts believe we need 60-80% of the population to be immune to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity — the point at which the virus is no longer able to spread.

It’s not clear exactly how many people have natural immunity, but if everyone over the age of 16 got their shots, we’d be within a few percentage points of the 80% threshold. However, we’d still probably need to vaccinate some of the under-16 crowd to actually reach it.

We need to vaccinate tens of millions more Americans.


President Joe Biden

However, just because all adults are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines doesn’t mean they’ll all sign up — many Americans are still hesitant to get vaccinated.

Additionally, the sign-up process for COVID-19 vaccines has been about as confusing as the eligibility requirements — even those adults who are ready and willing to get vaccinated could have trouble making an appointment. But the supply of doses has increased enough these days that it shouldn’t be too hard to find an appointment in most places.

Just do it: The U.S. is currently administering 3.2 million COVID-19 vaccines every day. If it can maintain that pace, about 70% of the population will be vaccinated by mid-June — but that all depends on everyone who’s eligible for COVID-19 vaccines getting their shots.

“We’re making tremendous progress, but we’re still in the race against this virus, and we need to vaccinate tens of millions more Americans,” Biden said.

“We could have a safe and happy Fourth of July with your family and friends in small groups in your backyard,” he continued. “That’s going to take everyone doing their part. Get vaccinated.”

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at tips@freethink.com.

Related
gene-edited wheat
Gene-edited wheat less likely to produce “probable carcinogen” acrylamide
A new gene-edited wheat contains 90% less of a compound that can turn into acrylamide — a likely carcinogen — when the crop is cooked.
CRISPR could create a one-shot treatment for HIV 
Researchers have used gene editing to engineer HIV-fighting immune cells inside the bodies of mice.
inhaled vaccine
We may want to rethink how we deliver COVID-19 vaccines
An inhaled vaccine outperformed a nasal spray in an animal study, suggesting that the delivery method could deserve more attention.
A vaccine against mosquito saliva may be the key to stopping their diseases
University of Leeds researchers have identified a compound in mosquito saliva as a potential target to protect against multiple viruses.
COVID-19 immunity test
New test tells you how many T cells for COVID-19 you have
A new blood test that measures a key indicator of COVID-19 immunity could help you assess your risk of a coronavirus infection.
Up Next
malnutrition cure
Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories