Biden’s Vaccine Promise is a Shot of Optimism but May be a Misfire


President Biden’s primetime address was the shot of optimism the nation needed following one of the bleakest winters in American history. (Courtesy of Twitter)

President Biden’s primetime address was the shot of optimism the nation needed following one of the bleakest winters in American history. Rightfully so, seeing as he promised that all U.S. adults could be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of May.

Biden set an initial benchmark for 100 million vaccine doses to be administered to Americans in his first 100 days in office. Only 58 days into his administration, Biden looks poised to exceed his initial promise as early as next week. This demonstrates two things: First, the president has upheld his promise to vaccinate as many Americans as possible and his diligence and commitment to fighting the pandemic shows as a result. Second, it shows that no matter how encouraging these numbers look on the surface, there is still room for improvement. Now, Biden must establish a higher benchmark, which makes 100 million doses in 100 days seem more like a floor and less like a ceiling.

Despite Biden’s impressive efforts, it does not seem entirely possible for all adults in the U.S to access the vaccine. States like South Carolina, Florida and Missouri have tried to expedite vaccine administration, yet less of their state populations received the vaccine in comparison to states like Hawaii and Connecticut, which vaccinated larger shares of their populations with a slower vaccine rollout. This shows that despite vaccine availability, vaccine administration is not created equal across state lines, as individual state approaches to delivering the vaccine to the American people will vary. Therefore, even if Biden were to fulfill his promise of vaccine availability for all adults in the U.S. by the end of May, this availability in doses is only as meaningful as each state’s timeline for actually administering the vaccine.

Despite talks of unity from the Biden administration, many Americans remain divided on whether or not to receive the vaccine, with half of Republican men expressing reluctance to being vaccinated and 50% of former Trump voters refusing vaccination altogether. Therefore, even if Biden’s vaccine rollout sees that all American adults can be vaccinated, the unconvinced attitudes of more conservative populations inhibit the chances of an entirely vaccinated population. With this trend of vaccine skepticism among particularly conservative populations, high vaccine supply only matters as much as the number of people who are willing to receive the vaccine. If not everyone is willing to be vaccinated, it ultimately would not matter how prodigiously the Biden administration worked to make vaccines available, thus invalidating the Biden administration’s promise to vaccinate all Americans.

From these instances, it seems as if there are more opportunities for Biden’s vaccine promises to be unfulfilled than upheld. If Biden were to have vaccines available for all adults in the U.S., they still would not be guaranteed a shot due to varying timelines in every state. Just because everyone will be able to get vaccinated does not mean they will be willing, as speculation on the vaccines will impede more conservative groups from choosing to get vaccinated. No matter how much the Biden administration works to get more vaccines into the arms of the American people, these obstacles can turn his shot of optimism into a misfire at a time when the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Because of the Biden administration’s efforts thus far, new cases of COVID-19 are beginning to slow as the weather gets warmer and more vaccines are becoming available in states like New York which was once the epicenter of the virus. The Biden administration may not realistically be able to uphold the promise of full vaccination of adults in the U.S. by the end of May. However, America will no longer be stumbling on the road to recovery, but may actually begin to walk again, as the Mayor of New York, Bill DeBlasio has already announced that public schools will reopen fully in the fall. This is a testament to the progress made from last year’s mass shutdowns to where we are now and where we are headed. With more people getting vaccinated, the CDC has issued new guidelines for gathering in groups, which allows grandparents to see their loved ones again after a year of the pandemic, albeit with lighter restrictions in place. Should vaccines continue to be made more widely available for Americans across the country, it will be only a matter of time until we get the summer of normalcy we missed in 2020. It will be only a matter of time until people can breathe easily again.

Now is America’s shot to recover from a pandemic that upended too many lives financially, physically and mentally. Ultimately, it is up to the Biden administration to make this shot count.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.