President BidenJoe Biden Garland to Focus on National Security and Civil Rights in First Appearance in Congress as Afghan Attorney General: “Critical for US and NATO to Fulfill Security Funding Commitments” announced on Tuesday a goal to administer at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults in the United States by July 4th as the country moves toward vaccinating harder-to-reach Americans.
In a speech Tuesday night at the White House, Biden also set a goal of vaccinating 1
Together, these targets will mean another 100 million shots, both first and second doses, over the next 60 days, a senior administration official said.
The target also recognizes a slowdown in vaccination rates.
Only about 35 million more adults need to get their first shot to reach the 70 percent target, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Achieving the goal would mean that about 180 million adults have at least one dose, compared to about 145 million, or 56 percent of the population, at present.
The average number of shots per day has been declining in recent weeks, although it is still at around 2.2 million, according to Our World in Data.
“As we expected, the pace of vaccinations is slowing down as most adult Americans have already fired their first shot,” Biden said. “We will soon reach the adults who are most eager to be vaccinated, and at that point these efforts will move to a new phase.”
The next phase focuses on people who are hesitant or less motivated to fire.
As opinion polls show that Republicans have a higher rate of hesitation than the general public, Biden pointed to the role of the Trump administration in developing vaccines.
“Two of our vaccines were allowed under prior administration – the Republican administration,” he said.
Biden also pointed to the CDC’s new guidelines that vaccinated people should not wear masks outside. Some experts say the CDC needs to be more forward-looking, offering incentives for people to return to normal once they are vaccinated.
“If we can keep driving vaccinations up and cases are declining, we will need our masks even less and less,” the president said.
Biden held July 4th as a date on which he hopes the country will be close to normal, and reaching 70 percent of adults with a single shot will help achieve that goal.
He said the new phase has pros and cons as the country no longer struggles to increase supply, but instead tries to persuade more people to get the shot.
“It’s easier because I don’t have to put together that huge logistical effort,” Biden said. “But in the other sense it’s harder because it’s out of my personal control.”
“It will be harder,” he added.
A senior administration official said 70 percent of those vaccinated would have a “sharp drop” in cases, although the official noted that this was a different threshold than “herd immunity.”
There is no exact percentage of inoculations for what would be immunity to the herd, but the White House emphasized this as a goal, noting that cases will decrease as more people are vaccinated.
Even before Biden’s announcement, many countries had already lifted many or all of their restrictions, especially in the South. Even the blue states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut jointly announced on Monday that they would lift most business capacity limits by May 19th.
As it appears to be vaccinating more hard-to-reach people, the White House is also announcing funding and taking other steps to try to increase access and combat hesitation.
The administration will direct pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to offer vaccinations without prior appointment and will encourage states to do so. Many countries have already moved in this direction.
Nearly $ 250 million will go to hiring “community workers” to help people get vaccinated, more than $ 130 million will go to vaccine training and information, and nearly $ 250 million will go to to the state’s efforts, the White House said.
Doses of vaccines will be sent directly to rural health clinics, given that rural areas are the focus in the next phase.
Finally, the administration says it will be ready on “day 1” of permission to start vaccinating adolescents aged 12 to 15. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group soon.