President Biden wants at least 70% of U.S. adults to be partly vaccinated with one COVID-19 shot by July 4, the holiday he pinpointed as a starting point for normalcy after the disruptive pandemic, officials said Tuesday.
He also wants 160 million adults to complete their vaccine regimens by Independence Day.
Senior administration officials said reaching those targets will require nearly 100 million shots in the next two months. That would be relatively simple under the current pace, which exceeds 2 million shots per day, but demand is slowing as states run out of eager adults and resort to free drinks and other incentives to get younger adults off the sidelines.
Hoping to be more targeted, Mr. Biden is allowing states with high demand to tap into a federal reserve of extra doses from states that declined to order their population-based share in a given week.
He will instruct tens of thousands of retail pharmacies in the federal vaccine program to offer walk-up appointments. And he’ll order the Federal Emergency Management Agency to shift its focus from mass-vaccination to targeted efforts through pop-up and mobile clinics.
Mr. Biden is sending more doses to rural health clinics and will fund education efforts around the vaccines in rural areas to combat hesitancy.
Administration officials also said they will be ready to ship the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to pediatrician offices immediately if the Food and Drug Administration decides to approve it for emergency use in persons age 12 to 15.
Roughly 56% of U.S. adults, or 145 million people, and 45% of the overall population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 41% of adults, or 104 million people, and nearly a third of the overall population have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modera versions or one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
That’s quite good compared to other developed nations, and the campaign is starting to cut cases, hospitalizations and deaths. But scientists say at least 70% of the population must be fully vaccinated to wrangle transmission and keep the virus from evolving into aggressive variants.
White House officials say they want to vaccinate as many people as possible, rather than reach for a specific threshold for “herd immunity.”
Mr. Biden’s decision to outline a population-based target at all is notable. To date, the White House has spoken in logistical terms, pointing to the number of shots delivered into arms during its first 100 days.
Eager Americans and the medically vulnerable have scheduled their appointments, forcing Mr. Biden to look for ways to incentivize the wary and get young people off the sidelines. Some younger people feel COVID-19 isn’t much of a threat to them and they don’t need to bother getting the shots.
Senior administration officials stressed that younger people are part of the chain of transmission and propagating outbreaks, hurting others.
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