“We’re going to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated,” Biden said Tuesday in his remarks.
He added, “Two months from today … families across the country are going to celebrate the Fourth of July. Our goal, by July Fourth, is to have 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot and at least 160 Americans fully vaccinated.”
So far, about 145 million adults — about 56% of the adult population in the US — have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An average of about 882,000 adults have been added to that total each day over the past week.
An additional 35 million adults will need to receive at least one dose to reach the new 70% goal. If vaccinations continue at the current pace, 70% of adults will have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the second week of June.
But with July 4 as the goal, the current pace of newly vaccinated adults can slow to an average of about 570,000 added to the total each day over the next two months — about 65% of the current pace.
The pace of vaccinations has already been on the decline since reaching a peak about three weeks ago, CDC data shows.
‘We will be able to mobilize immediately’
White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Tuesday night called the President’s new vaccination target an ambitious but reachable goal.
“It’s an achievable goal. It’s a stretch goal but it’s an achievable goal,” Klain told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360,” adding that “we vaccinated 57% of the adults in this country — we’re on the back half of this project, and so it’s going to go a little more slowly.”
To meet the new goal, Biden directed tens of thousands of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program to offer walk-in appointments and redirect Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to support more pop-up clinics, smaller community vaccination sites and more mobile clinics, senior administration officials said.
The Biden administration will also ship new allocations of Covid-19 vaccines to rural health clinics across the nation and provide additional funding to help communities conduct outreach to help get more Americans vaccinated.
The President announced an effort to get adolescents vaccinated as soon as possible if a Covid-19 vaccine is cleared for use in the US for this age group. The FDA is poised to authorize Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in children and teens ages 12 to 15 by early next week, a federal government official told CNN. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, like the Moderna vaccine, is a two-shot regimen while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot.
Extending the emergency authorization to people in this age group would open Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to an additional 5% of the US population.
“We will be able to mobilize immediately,” a senior administration official told reporters, should the emergency use authorization be granted. The official said about half of the federal pharmacy program will be ready to vaccinate this age group, and that vaccines will be ready to ship to pediatricians and family doctors.
The moves come as the Biden administration races to get shots in arms as variants spread throughout the country and threaten to derail the nation’s progress in the fight against the pandemic.
After spending months focused on ramping up supply and distribution of the vaccines, the White House is now working to combat vaccine hesitancy. Tuesday’s announcements are the latest efforts to build confidence in the safety and efficacy of the three Covid-19 vaccines that have been cleared for use in the United States.
Biden spoke on Tuesday about making access to vaccinations more convenient, supporting community vaccine education and local outreach efforts and reaching those in rural communities in the administration’s Covid-19 response.
“The pace of vaccinations is slowing now that the majority of American adults have gotten their first shot. But we’re still vaccinating millions of Americans every day,” Biden said, adding that in the last 10 days 1-in-10 US adults had gotten a shot.
Earlier Tuesday, the White House confirmed that as part of the new phase of the vaccination program, the federal government plans to redistribute vaccine doses should states not order all the vaccines allocated to them each week.
States will still get allocations based on their population, but the change means if a certain state does not order all of the doses available to them, the White House will redistribute it and likely give them to a state that has higher demand than its allocation.
Reaching the underserved and vaccine-hesitant
The President announced nearly $250 million in funding for community-based organizations to hire and mobilize community outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists, and others to increase access to the Covid-19 vaccines for those hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Biden also announced more than $130 million in funding to improve vaccine education and information and to work on reducing health disparities in underserved communities.
Nearly $250 million will be immediately awarded to states, territories and certain large city governments to fund the next phase of their vaccine outreach efforts. More than $100 million in duding will go to approximately 4,600 rural health clinics across the country to support vaccine outreach in rural communities.
In addition, nearly $860 million in funding will go toward supporting rural health clinics and rural hospitals in broadening their Covid-19 testing and mitigation capacity in order to stop the spread of the virus.
“We’re going to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated,” Biden said.
One thing the administration is doing to help convince reluctant Americans to get vaccinated is encourage incentives “to make it easier and more fun to get vaccinated,” Biden said. This will include partnerships with grocery stores, sports leagues and other businesses.
Biden also pointed to the fact that those who are fully vaccinated are slowly returning to a more normal lifestyle as a reason why those hesitant to get a vaccine should in fact get one.
The President also underscored that the vaccine has been an apolitical endeavor led by science, crediting the Trump administration for approval of two Covid-19 vaccines in use in the US and thanking Republicans in Congress for their efforts.
“I want to be clear. I’ve been saying this a long time, but I really believe this is not a Democrat or Republican issue. Science behind the vaccines has been under development for decades. Two of our vaccines were authorized under prior administrations, Republican administrations,” Biden said during remarks at the White House. “My administration, a Democratic administration, is doing the work to get hundreds of millions of shots in arms. While we may not always agree on everything, this is one thing people across the political spectrum can agree on.”
He continued, “You know, there’s a lot of disinformation out there, but there’s one fact I want every American to know: People who are not fully vaccinated can still die every day from Covid-19.”
“This is your choice: it’s life and death, and I hope everyone knows within themselves and makes the choice that’s going to help them and their loved ones be safe,” Biden said.
The President also said he recognized that it will be hard to convince all Americans to get vaccinated but hopes individuals will be convinced to do so by recognizing the risks of remaining unvaccinated.
“We know we’re going to get to a place where the doubters exist or the people who just are, I don’t want to say lazy, just not sure how to get to where they want to go (to get vaccinated). It’s going to be hard,” Biden said. “We’re going to keep at it. And I think at the end of the day, most people will be convinced by the fact that their failure to get the vaccine may cause other people to get sick and maybe die.”
This story has been updated with additional developments on Tuesday.