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A soldier administers a coronavirus vaccine in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Several states are making their entire adult populations eligible for coronavirus vaccines well ahead of President Biden's May 1 goal.

Why it matters: Opening up eligibility could get more shots in arms, but it also risks creating more competition for vaccines before many vulnerable Americans have received theirs.

Driving the news: Alaska and Mississippi have made the vaccine available to everyone older than 16. Ohio, Utah, Michigan, Montana and Connecticut have all said they'll follow suit within the next few weeks, per CNN.

  • Where it stands: Alaska has fully vaccinated more of its population than any other state, at over 18%, and Connecticut is near the top, according to Johns Hopkins' vaccine tracker.
  • But Ohio and Michigan are in the middle of the pack, and only seven states have vaccinated smaller shares of the their population than Mississippi.
  • Nationally, about 37% of people 65 and older are fully vaccinated, and about 65% have received at least one dose, per the CDC.

What they're saying: "One of the risks of opening up to all adults is it does become a bit of a free for all, and it becomes much more difficult to target vaccines and ensure those who are most vulnerable are vaccinated first," KFF's Jen Tolbert said.

  • "It is wonderful news that come May, vaccine supply will no longer be the limiting factor in getting Americans vaccinated. The bottleneck will then become distribution. Demand will outstrip our ability to get shots in arms, and that's when the 'hunger games' will truly begin," said Celine Gounder, an assistant professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine.
  • "We will need to pay special attention to equity, otherwise the most vulnerable will be left out, including people who work hourly jobs, don't have easy access to a computer or the internet, have lower levels of literacy, and have disabilities," she added.

The other side: An increase in vaccine supply may mean that speed and equity don't necessarily have to work against each other.

  • "We can increase eligibility to get as much speed going as possible (and prevent doses from sitting in storage), while also targeting communities that are unable to get access due to barriers to care," said Leana Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University School of Public Health.

Between the lines: Even when eligibility is wide open, providers may still have some ability to prioritize the highest-risk patients.

  • "As providers are scheduling appointments, they should consider an individual’s risk of exposure due to their employment and their vulnerability to severe disease in determining how to schedule appointments," the Michigan State Emergency Operations Center wrote in a memo announcing the eligibility dates last week.

Go deeper

Biden headed to the Hill as Democrats struggle to reach deal on spending bills

President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leave a House Democratic Caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 1. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday morning will meet with the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill to provide an update about his Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal, according to a White House official.

Driving the news: The meeting comes as Democrats struggle to reach a deal on the spending bills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Sunday that Democrats were planning to reach an agreement on the infrastructure package this week, before Biden's departure to Europe, which is slated for later on Thursday.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
47 mins ago - Economy & Business

Why it's so hard to tax wealth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The wealth tax that wasn't a wealth tax isn't even a tax, now. The Democrats had a meticulously constructed 107-page proposal to pay for a large chunk of their spending plans with a tax on billionaires, but it died ignobly on Wednesday, the same day it was unveiled.

Why it matters: The dream of a wealth tax will never die as it so neatly generates revenue by reducing inequality. But there are three main reasons why that dream is likely to remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

"Be first, be right, be credible" is the mantra of public health experts in a crisis. It's difficult to argue that the health community has regularly managed to be any of those three during COVID-19.

Why it matters: A pandemic isn't just a medical emergency — it's also a communications emergency. The U.S. public health establishment, hamstrung by bad data and political interference, has struggled with the latter.

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