WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden wants 70% of adults in the US to receive at least one COVID-19 shot by July 4th, a target he announced on Tuesday along with new steps to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations and preparation for vaccinating teenagers.
Today roughly 56% of adults have received at least one shot.
The pace of vaccinations required to reach 70% is much slower than the rate at which the nation has reached its current levels.
But vaccines now go beyond the most vulnerable populations and those who are most likely to want to be vaccinated.
“There are millions of Americans who just need a little encouragement to get the shot,” said Biden. “We need you. We need you to bring it home.”
Biden said the next phase could be even more challenging than the initial effort of buying enough cans for every American and building a massive distribution system.
“It’s harder. It’s out of my personal control,” Biden said of the need to convince more people now to get vaccinated.
In fact, most states appear to be at or near the point where supply exceeds demand analysis published Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan health research organization.
This is despite the fact that in about one in four states, less than 50% of adults received at least one shot. That’s well below the level needed to reduce the risk of outbreaks.
The lowest rate on April 29 was Alabama’s 41%. New Hampshire’s 74% were the highest.
Of the twelve states where 60% or more of adults have already received at least one dose, eight are in the northeast. Nine of the 13 states where fewer than 50% of adults are shot are in the south.
Tracking Vaccinations by State:How many people were vaccinated in the United States?
Steps the government is taking to encourage vaccinations include:
- Most pharmacies participating in the federal vaccination program are directed to offer walk-in appointments, and states are encouraged to do the same at state locations.
- Redirection of federal aid from mass vaccination centers to more pop-up and mobile clinics.
- Tens of millions of dollars spent on awareness raising and outreach campaigns by states, national organizations, and community groups, including those working with underserved communities.
- Sending cans direct to rural communities. Rural health clinics and hospitals are getting hundreds of millions of dollars to improve their services with the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The government announced Tuesday that it would redistribute the vaccine doses allotted to the states if a state is unable to use its full share in a given week. States that want more can request unclaimed amounts each week.
With the Food and Drug Administration considering whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 12-15, the administration prepares to act.
“When this announcement comes, we will be ready to move immediately,” said Biden.
Around 15,000 pharmacies can vaccinate young people. The cans are also sent to pediatricians and general practitioners.
The government is calling on states to give at least one shot to as many teenagers as possible by July 4th so they can be fully vaccinated by the fall of school. However, the White House declined to say if there is a specific target.
Officials stressed that while Biden’s 70% adult target is national, it should also be the target for individual communities. The virulence of COVID-19 will vary from community to community, so local leaders should focus on getting as many people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible.
Some researchers say another 30 to 40 million first shots for the U.S. could be enough to get to the point where COVID-19 cases are slowed down enough to prevent large outbreaks.
The UK reached its tipping point when around 50% of its residents received their first dose, said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California at San Francisco. Cases there are down 10% and deaths are down 31% over the past week.
In Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination levels in the world at 60%, COVID-19 cases are attributable to fewer than 1 in 100,000 people.
Contributing: Elizabeth way.