WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth, focusing on easing access to shots as his administration tackles the vexing problem of winning over those reluctant to get inoculated.
The new goal comes as demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their vaccine doses unordered. Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and will direct many pharmacies to do the same, and his administration is for the first time moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.
“You do need to get vaccinated,” Biden said from the White House. “Even if your chance of getting seriously ill is low, why take the risk? It could save your life or the lives of somebody you love.”
Biden’s goal, which includes delivering at least the first shot to 181 million adults and fully vaccinating 160 million, is a tacit acknowledgment of the declining interest in shots. Already more than 56% of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated. The U.S. is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day — half the rate of three weeks ago, but almost twice as fast as needed to meet Biden’s target.
“I’d like to get it 100%, but I think realistically we can get to that place between now and July Fourth,” Biden said.
He said the administration would focus on three areas as it tries to ramp up the pace of vaccinations: adults who need more convincing to take the vaccine, those who have struggled to obtain a shot and, once the FDA gives approval, adolescents aged 12-15. Acknowledging that “the pace of vaccination is slowing,” Biden acknowledged that the inoculation effort was “going to be harder” when it comes to convincing “doubters” of the need to get the shot.
He said the most effective argument to those people would be to protect those they love. “This is your choice: It’s life and death.”
Biden’s push comes as his administration has shifted away from setting a target for the U.S. to reach “herd immunity,” instead focusing on delivering as many shots into arms as possible. Officials said Biden’s vaccination target would result in a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases heading into the summer.
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