President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday afternoon a goal of having 70% of the U.S. adult population get at least one vaccine shot by July 4, according to senior administration officials.
The president will also set an objective of fully vaccinating 160 million Americans — or nearly 50% of the U.S. population — by the same date.
To boost the number of shots given ahead of the new goal, the president will also direct thousands of pharmacies to offer walk-in appointments and encourage states to do the same, officials said on a call with reporters Tuesday, plus the administration will begin offering more pop-up and mobile clinics and send more doses to rural health clinics in need.
Biden will also detail how his administration is prepared to vaccinate Americans 12 to 15 years old, who could become eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in the next few weeks if authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
The national rate of vaccinations has dipped in recent weeks, in part due to a decrease in demand in some areas of the country.
Currently, the U.S. is vaccinating about 2.3 million people per day, on average, down from more than 3 million in mid-April. As of Tuesday, about 56% of U.S. adults had gotten at least one shot, according to CDC data.
The president’s new goal would require the country to fully vaccinate another 54 million people and give 35 million adults their first dose over the next two months, benchmarks that allow for a lower rate of vaccinations than recent daily highs.
Once 70% of U.S. adults have at least one dose of the vaccine, infection rates throughout the United States are likely to begin to decrease significantly, a senior administration official said Tuesday.
“That’s the reason why we want to concentrate on getting as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible,” the official said. “When we do that, the number of cases unquestionably will go down.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, held up Israel as an example of the impact of having the majority of a population vaccinated in a briefing last month. With more than 60% of the country vaccinated, Israel saw cases drop to incredibly low numbers and reported zero deaths for the first time.
Still, officials reiterated the importance of vaccinating the maximum number of Americans as possible, even after the 70% goal is reached in July.
On Tuesday, President Biden will also detail a plan to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create smaller pop-up vaccination clinics and increase the number of mobile sites “to meet people where they are,” focusing on the “hardest-to-reach individuals,” according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
As the administration begins sending more doses to rural health clinics, the president will also announce Tuesday an additional $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan to support outreach and vaccine education in rural communities, plus another $860 million for rural providers to “broaden their COVID-19 testing and mitigation to slow the spread of the virus,” according to the White House fact sheet.
President Biden will also detail Tuesday how his administration is set to allocate vaccines for younger teens to pharmacies, local doctors and pediatricians, if authorized by the FDA.
“About half of the federal pharmacy program will be ready to vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds. That’s about 15,000 sites across the country,” a senior administration official said. “So adolescents and their parents can get information about the vaccine from a source of information they trust — their local doctor — and to make getting a shot as easy as convenient as possible.”
Officials told reporters that adolescents will be able to get their shot at any location, regardless of where they got their first, an option they confirmed for adults last week.
In his remarks, the president will announce another swath of funding for local outreach and vaccine education efforts: $250 million in for community organizations, including transportation to vaccination sites, $130 million for informing underserved populations and $250 million for state and local outreach efforts.
“This next phase emphasizes access and making it even easier. 90% living within five miles [of a vaccination site] is a great base to build on. But we’re gonna make it even easier for folks to get it,” an official told reporters Tuesday.
“The President will talk about our efforts to continue to build confidence and making sure that we do things in an equitable way and reach people where they are,” they added.