As the White House pressures states to boost vaccination numbers, President Biden has just announced an aggressive new federal target: a goal of administering at least 1 jab to 70% of American adults by July 4.
Biden is set to announce the new target in a speech Tuesday afternoon. It will officially set a goal to have 160M US adults - roughly fully vaccinated by July 4. Together, meeting these goals will require about 100M more shots in arms, both first and second doses, across the next 60 days, a senior administration official told the Hill.
Readers can watch Biden's speech live below. It's set to start at 1430ET:
Only about 35MM more adults need to get their first shot to reach the 70% goal, according to the CDC. Reaching the goal would mean about 180M adults have at least one dose up from about 145M, or 56%, currently.
"This is what we anticipated as we entered this phase," a senior administration official told reporters when asked about the slowdown. "Those most eager, those willing to get in their car and drive an hour, have gotten their shot."
The next phase focuses on reaching people who are “skeptical or less motivated,” the official said.
In the past, Biden has pointed to the 4th of July as the holiday where Americans can expect things to go back to "normal" as they attend holiday parties with their friends and families. Unfortunately, the US vaccination campaign has slowed as demand has slumped. Biden Administration officials are now reluctant to discuss expectations about "herd immunity" (in theory, 70% is when the threshold is supposed to be reached) though they told the Hill that the expectation is the spread of the virus will slow dramatically once vaccination rates surpass this level.
The average number of shots per day has been falling in recent weeks, though it is still at about 2.2M per day, according to official CDC numbers.
The administration will direct pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to offer walk-in vaccinations without an appointment, and encourage states to do so. Many states have already moved in that direction.
Thanks to the US being first in line for vaccines, Biden has easily met all of his vaccination targets so far. But with demand faltering, this could be the first time that the White House fails to achieve its target. Since it can't (at least, in theory) force Americans to accept the vaccine, we wonder what the administration might do on July 5 if the 70% goal isn't reached?