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Politics Biden to set goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4

21:30  04 may  2021
21:30  04 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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President Biden will announce Tuesday a goal to administer at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of U.S. adults by July 4th, as the country moves to vaccinate harder-to-reach Americans.

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In addition to the 70 percent goal, the White House said Biden, in a speech Tuesday afternoon, will set a goal to have 160 million U.S. adults fully vaccinated by July 4th.

Together, those goals will mean about 100 million more shots, both first and second doses, across the next 60 days, a senior administration official said.

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The goal also acknowledges a slowdown in the pace of vaccinations.

Only about 35 million more adults need to get their first shot to reach the 70 percent goal, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. Reaching the goal would mean about 180 million adults have at least one dose up from about 145 million, or 56 percent, currently.

The average number of shots per day has been falling in recent weeks, though it is still at about 2.2 million per day, according to figures from Our World in Data.

"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."

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The next phase focuses on reaching people who are "skeptical or less motivated," the official said.

Biden has held out the Fourth of July as a date where he hopes the country will be closer to normal, and reaching 70 percent of adults with one shot will help reach that goal.

A senior administration official said that with 70 percent vaccinated, there would be a "sharp decline" in cases, though the official noted that this is a different threshold than "herd immunity."

There is not an exact known percentage of inoculations for what would constitute herd immunity, but the White House has deemphasized it, noting that cases will decline as more people are vaccinated.

Even before Biden's announcement, many states have already lifted many or all of their restrictions, especially in the South. Even the blue states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut jointly announced Monday they would lift most capacity limits on businesses by May 19.

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As it looks to vaccinate harder-to-reach people, the White House is also announcing funding and taking other steps to try to increase access and fight hesitancy.

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.

Almost $250 million will go towards hiring "community outreach workers" to help get people vaccinated, more than $130 million will go towards vaccine education and information, and nearly $250 million for state outreach efforts, the White House said.

Vaccine doses will be sent directly to rural health clinics, given that rural areas are a focus in the next phase.

Finally, the administration says it will be ready on "day 1" to start vaccinating adolescents aged 12-15. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon announce the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group.

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