The White House publicly recognized on Tuesday that President Biden does not expect to meet his goal of at least partially vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4, and will only hit that milestone for those 27 and older.
It would be the first time that Mr Biden failed to meet a vaccination goal he set. If the rate of adult vaccinations continues at the current seven-day average, the country will be just below Mr Biden’s target, according to analysis by the New York Times, with about 67 percent of adults partially vaccinated by July 4 .
White House officials have argued that, given all the progress the nation has made against Covid-19, missing a few percentage points is not significant. “We have built an unprecedented, first-ever nationwide vaccination program of its kind,” said Jeff Zients, the coordinator for the White House pandemic response, at a press conference. “That is a remarkable achievement.”
When the target was announced on May 4, Mr Biden made a personal request to the unvaccinated, saying that being given an injection was a life and death decision. According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated and 177 million have received at least one dose.
However, health experts warn that this winter’s drop in vaccination rates could mean renewed coronavirus outbreaks if cold weather drives people indoors, with high daily death rates in areas where comparatively few people have protected themselves with gunshots.
“I pay tribute to the Biden administration for putting in place a mass vaccination program for adults that didn’t exist,” said Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “But now we’ve hit a wall.”
Unless tens of millions more Americans are vaccinated in the next few months, he said, “I think we’ll see an increase again this winter. And this surge will occur exactly where you would expect it – in areas that are unvaccinated or underdaccinated. “
So far, young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 have been particularly difficult to convince. “The reality is that many younger Americans felt that Covid-19 was not affecting them and they were less concerned about getting the injection,” Mr. Zients said.
He said it would take “an extra couple of weeks” to reach more of this group to meet the goal of 70 percent of adults being at least partially vaccinated.
Lazaro Gamio contributed to the coverage.