In a speech at the White House on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden revised his plan and commitment to getting the United States back to normal by July 4 — with a new strategy to get a critical mass of American adults vaccinated by that date.
The rate of vaccine administration is slowing down — to about 2.2 million doses per day, well down from the peak of nearly 4 million vaccines administered in a day in mid-April.
While vaccines are still being administered at a great pace, the new obstacle is no longer the fight to prepare enough vaccines, or even figuring out how to administer them in mass centers. It’s about the group of people who aren’t eager or able to get vaccines. It’s about getting rural people, and vaccine-hesitant people, to come around on the safety, efficacy, and necessity of COVID-19 inoculation, and get access to it.
In the presser, Biden said, “As we anticipated, the pace of vaccinations is slowing, now that the majority of American adults have already gotten their first shot. Soon we’ll have reached the adults who are most eager to get vaccinated and at this point, this effort will shift to a new phase.”
Here’s the skinny on the new July 4 plan, how the plan will be rolled out, and what it means for the fight against COVID-19.
Biden Wants ‘70 Percent of Adults’ Vaccinated With At Least One Shot By July 4
In March, Biden had touted July 4 as the day when Americans could have barbecues in their backyards with their families, hug one another, and experience some semblance of normalcy. He also wanted to dole out 100 million vaccine doses within the first 100 days of his presidency — a conservative goal that the administration beat by administrating 200 million vaccine doses.
But now, Biden said in his speech, he has a different problem. The most eager to get vaccinated are already on their way to full vaccination. As vaccine appointments slow, the next steps will be outreach to rural communities, people who are hesitant to receive the vaccine, and more.
“It’s easier because I don’t have to put together this massive logistical effort,” Biden said of the fact that he had cleared up clogs in the vaccine administration pipeline within the first 100 days, from setting up mass vaccine sites to ramping up production efforts. “But in the other sense, it’s harder because it’s beyond my personal control,” he added, largely speaking to the fact that because vaccines aren’t mandated by the government, it’s a matter of providing vaccine appointment opportunity to people and, ultimately, trying to change hearts and minds.
Why Does ‘70 Percent’ Matter?
Administration public health experts have noted that having 70 percent of American adults vaccinated with at least one dose would contribute to a massive decline in COVID-19 cases, as well as drive down the spread of the deadly virus. It’s not herd immunity — but it would mean that at some point within 42 days after July 4, 70 percent of American adults would be vaccinated against COVID-19 fully, which would be a huge milestone.
Add that to the fact that kids age 12 and up will be approved to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine as soon as next week, Moderna’s trial results for 12 to 17-year-olds are coming soon, and Pfizer will request emergency authorization of the vaccine for kids age 2 to 11 in September, and you have the makings of a country that will be very vaccinated, if not at herd immunity levels.
How Will He Do It?
In the speech, Biden implored the government, federal and state, to shift away from mass vaccination sites run by governmental arms like FEMA and push vaccines at doctor’s office, rural clinics, mobile sites, pharmacies, and in harder-to-reach rural areas that have not been as quick on the vaccine rollout front as major urban areas.
Biden’s admin will put $250 million toward community outreach workers, $130 million toward vaccine education and information, and $250 million toward states so they can do their own outreach.
Will It Get Us to ‘Herd Immunity’?
Currently, 106 million people are fully vaccinated and 148 million people have received at least one shot of the vaccine.
To get to Biden’s new goal, about 180 million adults will have to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — meaning that about 35 million more people need to get their first dose of the vaccine by July 4.
This will get about half of the population of the entire United States to have been vaccinated with at least one dose, which will still significantly drive down cases, reduce the risk of getting/passing along COVID-19, and be an important marker in the fight, even if it’s not herd immunity.