WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Tuesday (May 4) announced a goal to have 70 per cent of US adults vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 shot by the Jul 4 Independence Day holiday, and urged young people in their 20s and 30s in particular to get inoculated.
The president, who has made fighting the coronavirus a key priority of his administration, had previously announced Jul 4 as a target date for when Americans can gather in small groups to signal a return to greater normalcy in the middle of the pandemic.
Biden's new goal comes as the administration faces increasing, though not unexpected, challenges of getting shots into the arms of people who are hesitant about the vaccine. The new target takes that reality into account.
"Now that we have the vaccine supply, we're focused on convincing even more Americans to show up and get the vaccine that is available to them," Biden told reporters at the White House while announcing his target. "If we succeed in this effort ... then Americans will have taken a serious step towards a return to normal."
Biden's new goal includes having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by the Fourth of July.
An administration official told reporters that at this time 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated and more than 56 per cent of US adults, or 147 million people, have received at least one shot.
"There are a lot of younger people, especially those in their 20s and 30s who believe they don't need it. Well, I want to be absolutely clear: You do need to get vaccinated," Biden said.
The president's goal would result in roughly half of the entire US population being vaccinated by early July.
US officials are gearing up to administer vaccines to adolescents once approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
To meet the president's target, the government will work to make the vaccine even more accessible by having thousands of pharmacies allow walk-in appointments and using the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "to support more pop-up clinics," the White House said in a statement.