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U.S. to fall short of Biden’s 70% July 4 vaccination goal

President Joe Biden makes vaccine remarks recently.
President Joe Biden makes vaccine remarks recently.

WASHINGTON, DC -- The White House Covid response team announced Tuesday the U.S. will not hit President Joe Biden's goal of getting 70% of all adults ages 18 and older vaccinated with at least one shot by the symbolic July Fourth holiday.

Earlier this month, Biden had called for a national "month of action" -- an "all-America sprint" to reach the goal and a "summer of freedom." Biden added: "We can do this."

White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients instead highlighted other vaccination milestones that were not previously public targets. Seventy-percent of adults ages 30 and older already have had at least one shot, the White House announced, and by July Fourth, the U.S. will have vaccinated 70% of Americans 27 and older with one shot.

"We want every American in every community to be protected and free from fear of the virus. That's why we’ll keep working to vaccinate more Americans across the summer and into the fall ... we are not stopping at 70% and we're not stopping on July Fourth," Zients said at Tuesday's White House Covid response briefing.

Asked later by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega what went wrong and why the White House wasn't able to reach the goal that it set, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the country has already met the goal of 70% of partially vaccinated adults among those 30-years-and-older, but that it's been harder to vaccinate communities of color, conservative communities and younger populations.

"We don't see it exactly like something went wrong, how we see it is we set a bold, ambitious goal -- something the president has done from the very beginning -- and we are expected to meet that goal. Just a couple of weeks after July 4, and in fact, at this point, as of today, we're going to be already at that point for people who are 30 years of age and older," she said.

As recently as early June, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, remained confident that the U.S. would hit Biden's target, which the president announced on May 4.

"We want to, and we are going to hit 70% of the adult population by the Fourth of July," Fauci said on the daytime talk show "Live with Kelly and Ryan" on June 7.

As of Tuesday, 65.4% of adults ages 18 and older had at least one shot. At the current pace of vaccinations, it's unlikely that number will hit 70% by next Sunday — instead, it will take a few extra weeks.

Approximately 11.8 million more adults need to be vaccinated with their first dose in order to reach 70% of all adults. For the U.S. to reach that by July 4, 12 days away, about 990,000 adults would need to get vaccinated each day. However, as of Tuesday, only about 392,000 adults were getting their first dose each day, on average.

At the current rate, the U.S. would fall about 7.1 million shots short of the 70% goal by July 4, hitting around 67.2% of adults partially vaccinated with at least one dose.

The reluctance among younger adults to get the vaccine, a key barrier to the Biden administration hitting its goal, will remain a challenge beyond July Fourth. Fear of the virus is less for younger people, as the age group accounts for just 0.5% of Covid-19 related deaths, but at the same time, adults 18-29 have also made up the highest number of cases throughout the pandemic, CDC data shows, and increasing vaccinations among young adults is vital to stopping the spread of the disease and its variants.

Although cases are trending down among all age groups, the 18–24-year-old age group and the 25-34-year-old age group currently have the highest weekly case rates per capita out of any age groups. Adults between the ages of 18 and 49 also currently account for the highest percentage of Covid-19 related hospitalizations, at around 42%.

For now, a White House official says the plan is to focus on what has already been achieved, including plummeting cases and deaths. But the concession is a missed mark for the Biden administration, which has frequently been criticized for setting vaccination goals that were not seen as ambitious.

The White House will also tout its own July Fourth celebration plans -- 1,000 first-responders and military personnel on the South Lawn to view the traditional fireworks on the National Mall, where thousands more will surely gather.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

ABC News


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