US President Joe Biden has set a new vaccination target to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July Four.
Mr. Biden announced the new goal on Tuesday as his administration faced the vexing issue of winning over the “doubters” to get vaccinated.
Demand for vaccines in the US has dropped off markedly, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered.
Aiming to make it easier to get shots, Mr. Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis. He said he would be directing many pharmacies to do likewise.
Speaking from the White House, the president also said his administration was, for the first time, moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the jabs.
“You do need to get vaccinated,” Mr. Biden urged his compatriots. “Even if your chance of getting seriously ill is low, why take the risk? It could save your life or the lives of somebody you love,” he added.
Mr. Biden’s goal equates to delivering at least the first shot to 181 million adults and fully vaccinating 160 million. Analysts say the new target can be interpreted as a tacit acknowledgment, by the administration, of the declining interest in shots.
Already more than 56% of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated. The US is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day — half the rate of three weeks ago, but almost twice as fast as needed to meet Mr. Biden’s target, the Associated Press has reported.
“I’d like to get it 100%, but I think realistically we can get to that place between now and July Fourth,” the president said of his new goal.
He said the administration would focus on three areas as it tries to ramp up the pace of vaccinations: Namely, adults who need more convincing to take the vaccine, those who have struggled or are in no hurry to get a jab, and adolescents aged 12-to-15.
Mr. Biden’s push comes as his administration has shifted away from setting a target for the US to reach “herd immunity,” instead focusing on delivering as many shots into arms as possible.
Administration officials have said the president’s vaccination target will result in a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases heading into the summer.
As of May 4, 2021, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide had surpassed 154 million, with the death tally exceeding 3.2 million.
The US is the country worst-hit by the disease worldwide, with the number of confirmed cases reaching nearly 33.3 million and 591,162 deaths.