On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that there would be enough COVID-19 vaccines for every adult in the United States by the end of May, much earlier than previously anticipated.
The original timeline was predicted to be the end of July. The timeline was revised following the announcement that Merck will assist Johnson & Johnson with the production of its single-dose vaccine and the use of the Defense Production Act.
Merck will use two of its facilities, one which will produce the vaccine and another to carry out the last phase of the manufacturing process, NBC News reports. Johnson & Johnson’s facility will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to produce vaccines.
Merck initially worked to produce its own vaccine but announced in January that it would discontinue development due to an “inferior” immune response.
Biden is also pushing for states to prioritize vaccinating teachers and school staff. The goal is to have every teacher scheduled to receive their first dose this month. Teachers will be able to schedule an appointment beginning this week at any local pharmacy.
“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,” Biden said.
On Monday, Johnson & Johnson shipped out four million doses of its vaccine and is expected to ship an additional 16 million more by the end of the month. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored in a regular refrigerator and only requires a single dose to be effective.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 15 percent of people in the country have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.