WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is expanding the pool of health care personnel who are eligible to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
The move comes after President Joe Biden announced Thursday night he will direct states to open up their vaccine supply to all adult Americans by May 1.
Moving forward, newly eligible vaccinators include dentists, paramedics, midwives, optometrists, paramedics, physician assistants, podiatrists, respiratory therapists and veterinarians, according to the White House.
The Department of Health and Human Services has also launched a new online portal for vaccinators to check their eligibility status and to volunteer in their state.
"Expanding the number of places people can get vaccinated, as well as the number of vaccinators, that's going to be critical for us as we drive an equitable response," Senior Advisor to the COVID-19 response team Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith said in the briefing.
Health officials on the White House coronavirus response team held a briefing Friday morning and discussed the change. The briefing included Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, senior advisor to the COVID-19 response team and White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
On Thursday, Biden signed a massive $1.9 trillion legislative bill for coronavirus relief and marked the one-year anniversary of the virus becoming a pandemic.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Wednesday said the U.S. could see significant steps toward a return to the pre-pandemic normal, even before the country reaches coronavirus herd immunity. He estimated that the outbreak would end when 70-85% of the population was vaccinated.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday, however, cautioned that only about 10% of the population is fully vaccinated, but her agency anticipated loosening federal guidelines as more people receive shots.
The U.S. is set to receive enough doses of the three approved vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, by the middle of May to cover all adults. The surplus would ensure supply to cover young adults and children, pending the result of safety and efficacy trials. They could also be used as potential “boosters” to further protect against emerging virus variants or be shared with allies overseas once Americans are protected.
The federal health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated to stop the stead of the virus. As of Friday morning, there have been more than 530,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.