President Joe Biden announced a goal of giving 70% of adults at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 4, his target date for a greater sense of normalcy around the country.
Biden also wants to have 160 million adults receive two vaccine doses in the next two months. He unveiled the new goals during remarks from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, according to senior administration officials.
“This means close to 100 million additional shots in arms over the next 60 days,” an official said.
To try to achieve that, Biden is directing pharmacies involved in the federal vaccination program to offer walk-in appointments, reassigning Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to community, pop-up, and mobile vaccination sites, and reallocating vaccine stock to rural health providers, administration officials explained.
“The task before us in this next phase of the vaccination program: reaching Americans who face significant hurdles to get vaccinated, as well as those who are skeptical or less motivated,” an official said.
Another official added: “The more you vaccinate people, the more you can pull back on some of the public health restrictions, and that really is our goal.”
Biden is also expected to encourage adolescents to get vaccinated as soon as shots for the 12-15 age group are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the CDC so they can be inoculated before school starts in the fall.
Additionally, Biden will announce that he is pouring more than $130 million into vaccine education and information to combat hesitancy, with states and large cities receiving almost $250 million for localized, tailored outreach efforts. Rural providers will be bolstered by $100 million as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package for engagement programs, in addition to the Health Resources and Services Administration providing $860 million to rural facilities for testing and mitigation measures.
The officials responded to reports earlier Tuesday that the administration will begin redistributing vaccine stock among the states based on need. It had refused to surge supply to Michigan last month to counter the state’s spike in cases. An official said governors were “supportive” of the decision.
“It’s completely up to the state’s discretion,” the official said. “If a state was to decide that in that given week, because each week the system resets, they want less than 100% [of their allocated doses], that in turn goes into a pool, a federal pool, that states that want more than 100% could apply to get additional doses from, and then that would be in turn allocated based again on the state’s population.”
Almost 60% of adults, or 150 million people older than 16, have already had one COVID-19 jab, while 105 million have had both required by some of the vaccination variants, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates. Public experts, such as Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, suggest that herd immunity will be reached when between 70% and 85% of the population is immunized against the respiratory illness. Fauci has described this threshold as “elusive” because scientists do not universally agree on a set figure that would equate to herd immunity.