President Joe Biden has announced a goal to have 70 percent of US adults vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 shot and 160 million adults fully vaccinated by the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
He also said on Tuesday that the United States will have sent 10 percent of its AstraZeneca vaccine doses to other nations, including Canada, Mexico and another unnamed nation he is speaking with, by July 4.
The president, who has made fighting the coronavirus a key priority of his administration, previously announced July 4 as a goal for when Americans can gather in small groups to signal a return to some normalcy amid the pandemic.
Biden began the address by touting his administration’s accomplishments: “Over 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated … 70 percent of the seniors are now fully vaccinated. It’s a dramatic turnaround from where we were in January, when less than 2 percent of adults and less than 1 percent of seniors were fully vaccinated”.
The president noted “that many adults have not been vaccinated because they have found it too confusing or too difficult or too inconvenient to get a shot”. The administration created a website, vaccine.gov, in order to help those facing difficulty in finding a vaccination site.
Biden also said there will soon be walk-in vaccine times at the “vast majority of our 40,000 pharmacy locations across the country” and the government is encouraging “state and local partners” to do the same.
New COVID-19 cases are dropping, though vaccine administration is slowing.
Biden’s new goal comes as the administration faces increasing, though not unexpected, challenges of getting people vaccinated who are hesitant about the vaccine, partly due to blood clots resulting from Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.
Vaccines have a lower probability of causing blood clots than the coronavirus itself, according to a study.
The new target takes that reality into account.
US officials are gearing up to administer vaccines to adolescents once that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
More than half of the US adult population has taken one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The US is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day — half the rate of three weeks ago, but nearly twice as fast as needed to meet Biden’s target.
Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he expects 10 percent of the US’s AstraZeneca vaccine stockpile will be distributed to other nations by this summer.
“We are going to, by the fourth of July, have sent about 10 percent of what we have to other nations,” Biden said, including Canada and Mexico and, “other countries we’re talking to”. He said he spoke to a “head of state today” about receiving vaccines but was not prepared to discuss which head of state he talked to.
The US has contracted with AstraZeneca for 300 million doses, although it is not clear how many of those doses will be in the US government’s possession by July 4. The Associated Press news agency has reported there could be as many as 60 million doses available for distribution in the coming months.
The Biden administration is also working to give Brazil access to $20m of medication used to intubate COVID-19 patients, the White House said on Tuesday.
The medications will come from the US government’s strategic stockpile and will be delivered in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“It has not yet been finalised, but we are working in partnership with the government of Brazil on that,” she said.