Covid-19 vaccines are finally, truly coming for every American adult soon

All of a sudden, the news on the US Covid-19 vaccine front seems immensely positive. It’s so positive, in fact, that the words Americans have been waiting to hear now seem true: You will almost certainly get a vaccine soon.

President Joe Biden shared the good news on Tuesday. As he told reporters, “We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May” — two months earlier than the July timeline he gave before.

It’s not just Biden. Last month, Anthony Fauci, the top federal infectious disease expert, said he expected it to be “open season” for vaccines in late May or early June. Over the past few weeks, experts I’ve talked to have also sounded increasingly positive about the prospects of every adult in the US getting a shot in the next few months.

The national vaccination numbers reflect that: The US is now averaging 1.9 million shots administered a day as of March 2, up from less than 1 million in mid-January. Even if that number doesn’t improve — which seems unlikely — the current rate puts the country on track to hit herd immunity, when enough people are immunized to stop the spread of the virus, by the end of the summer.

None of this is guaranteed. There are still major questions about how this will all play out, from questions about when exactly states will ease their vaccination criteria to whether manufacturing and distribution will really manage to keep up. Different states, counties, and even cities will likely have different experiences.

So, unfortunately, it’s not clear when, exactly, any particular person will finally get a shot. We just don’t know yet.

The good news is also not a sign that we should collectively relax on following the basic precautions against Covid-19, including masking and physical distancing, just yet. Vaccines will likely let us get our lives back to normal — and if you’re vaccinated and want to privately meet with other people who are vaccinated, that’s probably fine.

But as a society, and particularly in public settings, it’s important we wait until the vast majority of people are vaccinated to truly ease up: With thousands of people still dying every day from Covid-19, the precautions we’ve all heard about over the past year remain crucial for saving lives — potentially tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of them. (So it’s concerning that some states, like Texas and Mississippi, are now moving to reopen and end restrictions, including mask mandates.)

Still, that shouldn’t obscure the fact the vaccine news is very good. A finish line is finally visible with this pandemic. Now it’s on us and our leaders to make sure as many of us make it there as possible.