WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday set a new goal for the ongoing U.S. Covid-19 vaccination campaign: giving at least one shot to 70% of the adult population by July 4.
To reach that goal, Biden’s team said he will expand walk-up vaccinations at pharmacies and vaccination sites, open additional mobile vaccination units, and accelerate a public-relations campaign aimed at boosting vaccine confidence.
The announcement comes as the pace of the U.S. vaccination effort has nosedived. As of mid-April, the country was administering just under 3.4 million vaccine doses each day. As of Tuesday, the rate had dropped to just under 2.3 million.
Still, the country is currently on track to reach President Biden’s latest goal. Over 56% of adults 18 and over have already received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to federal data. That number represents roughly 145 million people; to reach the 70% threshold, about 36 million additional adults would need to receive a first dose in the next two months.
The White House, additionally, set a goal of giving a full vaccine regimen — either two doses each of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s — to 160 million Americans.
That benchmark, too, appears within reach. Currently, 105 million Americans have received a full course of vaccine doses, in addition to the 40 million who’ve only received one dose. During a press briefing, a senior Biden aide said the administration estimated that reaching each goal would require administering about another 100 million doses to adults in the next two months, roughly three-quarters of the current pace.
While the administration’s new goal focused on the adult population, administration officials also said they were prepared for the Food and Drug Administration’s expected extension of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s emergency use authorization for children between the ages of 12 and 15.
As part of their announcement, Biden aides also highlighted a number of funding opportunities aimed at bolstering vaccine access and confidence in local communities, part of a previously reported, $1.5 billion effort to encourage immunizations nationwide.
For the first time, the administration said it will send vaccines to rural health clinics and provide $100 million for those clinics to conduct vaccine outreach. It will also offer roughly $630 million in additional funding for local governments to step up outreach campaigns and hire community workers tasked with identifying and contacting people who haven’t yet been vaccinated, with a particular emphasis on people of color, people with disabilities, and those in rural areas.