President Joe Biden will set a new target of 70% of U.S. adults receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 4 as the administration seeks to stem a dropoff in inoculations.
Biden’s goals — announced from the White House on Tuesday — will be for 70% of the adult population to have at least one shot and for 160 million adults to be fully vaccinated by Independence Day, according to officials familiar with the matter.
As of now, 56% of U.S. adults, or 145 million, have received at least one dose and nearly 41%, or about 105 million, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. is quickly exhausting the pool of people who want a vaccine and is shifting efforts to focus on those who are less motivated, or who are skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinating large numbers of people is key to limiting the emergence of dangerous new variants of the virus, health experts say.
The administration’s goal would be attainable if it manages to vaccinate Americans at roughly half the pace it had over the past month. Administration officials defended the goals as sufficiently ambitious, saying they would still need to administer close to 100 million doses to adults over the next two months. That pace wouldn’t include additional doses that would be administered to adolescents if the vaccine is approved for those under 16 years old.
Also Tuesday, the White House told governors in a phone call that any unclaimed shots in their states will be redirected to a pool of doses available for distribution elsewhere, according to people familiar with the discussion. The administration had previously allocated shots evenly to states, based on adult population, regardless of how many injections were given.
To make it more convenient for Americans to get shots, the administration will urge pharmacies and states to offer more walk-in appointments, send more doses to rural health clinics and direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support more mobile vaccination clinics, the officials said.
Biden will announce that the administration is making nearly $1.5 billion in funds from the coronavirus rescue package available for community organizations, rural health clinics, and state and local governments as part of the push to increase vaccination and testing rates in underserved areas.
Biden will tell states to make adolescents eligible for a vaccine as soon as an authorization is given, and urge them to get as many adolescents vaccinated as possible in time for the start of the fall school year.
Biden’s moves come as the seven-day average of shots has fallen to 2.3 million, from 3.4 million, in about three weeks, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The U.S. administered 1.2 million shots on Monday, the lowest daily total since February, though Monday is typically a slower day for vaccination data.
The federal government has delivered 312.5 million doses of vaccines, of which 246.9 million, or 79%, have been recorded as administered.
Biden has regularly implored Americans to get a vaccine, avoid large crowds and continue COVID-19 mitigation efforts a bit longer to drive the caseload down in time for July 4 celebrations.
“Everyone, get vaccinated now, please,” he said Monday.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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