President Joe Biden announced a goal on Tuesday to inoculate 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one COVID-19 shot by the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
Biden said the government would vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds as soon as allowed.
The president, who prioritized fighting coronavirus, had previously announced July 4 as a target date for Americans to gather in small groups to celebrate the holiday and signal a return to greater normalcy in the middle of the pandemic.
Biden’s new goal takes into account an increasing, though not unexpected, challenge of getting shots into the arms of people who are hesitant about the vaccine.
Biden said his administration would focus on administrating vaccine to more rural areas of the country, using smaller locations as mass vaccination sites were wound down.
Biden’s new goal includes having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by the 4th of July.
An administration official told reporters that 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated and more than 56 adults of U.S. adults, or 147 million people, have received at least one shot.
The administration is working to win over those who are hesitant about the vaccine, including supporters of former President Donald Trump and young adults.
“There are a lot of younger people, especially those in their 20s and 30s who believe they don’t need it. Well, I want to be absolutely clear: You do need to get vaccinated,” Biden said.
The president’s goal would result in roughly half of the entire U.S. population being vaccinated by early July. Since coming into office, Biden and his team repeatedly have set goals such as getting 100 million people vaccinated during his first 100 days in office, a target he later increased to 200 million people, only to surpass them.
“One characteristic of Biden’s Covid approach has been underpromise & overdeliver. So when they say they have a goal of 70% of adults having received at least one shot by July 4, it means they’re pretty sure they can do better,” Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco wrote on Twitter.
To meet the president’s broader target, the government also will work to make the vaccine accessible by having thousands of pharmacies allow walk-in appointments.
Vaccination rates vary with a high of over 57 percent of eligible people in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont to less than 33% in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.