Montana, Utah, Michigan Among States to Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Access

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Tuesday that all Montanans ages 16 and over will be eligible for coronavirus vaccines starting April 1, joining a handful of other states who have opened their vaccine eligibility to all adults in previous weeks.

President Joe Biden on March 11 directed states to make every adult in the U.S. eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1. But while federal support will certainly increase states’ ability to gain access to doses, and while the administration has committed to aiding in efforts such as technical support and opening additional federal vaccination centers, much of the effort will fall on state infrastructure. Still, some states are already meeting the president’s directive.

[MORE: COVID-19 and Your State]

Alaska was the first state to announce and implement the eligibility for all adults on March 9, achieving a single-dose vaccination rate of more than 27% as of March 17, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. Mississippi has since followed suit, with all individuals 16 and older becoming eligible starting March 16.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox announced on March 9 that all adults will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 1, following last week’s announcement that the state will lift its mask mandate on April 10, a decision that Cox spokesperson Jennifer Napier-Pearce said was reached after negotiations with the state Legislature to end the mandate earlier. The negotiations also involved Cox signing a bill to limit his emergency powers.

“Once it became clear that the legislature planned to end the mask mandate immediately, and with a veto proof majority, our administration worked with them to push the date back to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Napier-Pearce said in a statement.

[READ: States With Mask Mandates]

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer likewise announced March 12 that all adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine by April 5, after making all high-risk individuals eligible starting March 22.

“Nearly one million Michiganders of all races have already been safely vaccinated,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I urge all eligible Michiganders to get one of the three COVID-19 vaccines. It is essential to getting our country back to normal, so that we can all hug our families, get back to work, go to restaurants, send our kids to school, play sports and get together again.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that the state will open up eligibility to individuals 16 and older starting March 29, and in a statement on Monday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced a revised vaccination schedule that would tentatively make all adults over the age of 16 eligible to receive a vaccine starting April 5, while Maine, Virginia and Wisconsin officials said they will meet Biden’s May 1 timeline for all adults to become eligible. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that all individuals 16 and over will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting May 1 as well.

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