Biden Goal: Vaccinate 70% 05/05 06:43

Biden Goal: Vaccinate 70%     05/05 06:43

   President Joe Biden set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot 
to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth as he tackles the vexing problem of 
winning over the "doubters" and those unmotivated to get inoculated.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden set a new vaccination goal to deliver 
at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth as he tackles the 
vexing problem of winning over the "doubters" and those unmotivated to get 
inoculated.

   Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states 
leaving more than half their available doses unordered. Aiming to make it 
easier to get shots, Biden on Tuesday called for states to make vaccines 
available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise.

   His administration for the first time also is moving to shift doses from 
states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.

   "You do need to get vaccinated," Biden said from the White House. "Even if 
your chance of getting seriously ill is low, why take the risk? It could save 
your life or the lives of somebody you love."

   Biden's goal equates to delivering at least the first shot to 181 million 
adults and fully vaccinating 160 million. It's a tacit acknowledgment of the 
declining interest in shots.

   Already more than 56% of American adults have received at least one dose of 
a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated. The U.S. is 
currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day -- half 
the rate of three weeks ago, but almost twice as fast as needed to meet Biden's 
target.

   "I'd like to get it 100%, but I think realistically we can get to that place 
between now and July Fourth," Biden said of his new goal.

   He said the administration would focus on three areas as it tries to ramp up 
the pace of vaccinations:

   - Adults who need more convincing to take the vaccine.

   - Those who have struggled or are in no hurry to obtain a shot.

   - Adolescents aged 12-15, once federal authorities approve vaccination for 
that age group.

   Acknowledging that "the pace of vaccination is slowing," Biden predicted the 
inoculation effort is "going to be harder" when it comes to convincing 
"doubters" of the need to get their shots.

   He said the most effective argument to those people would be to protect 
those they love. "This is your choice: It's life and death."

   Biden's push comes as his administration has shifted away from setting a 
target for the U.S. to reach "herd immunity," instead focusing on delivering as 
many shots into arms as possible. Officials said Biden's vaccination target 
would result in a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases heading into the 
summer.

   To that end, the Biden administration is shifting the government's focus 
toward expanding smaller and mobile vaccination clinics to deliver doses to 
harder-to-reach communities. It is also spending hundreds of millions of 
dollars to try to boost interest in vaccines through education campaigns and 
greater access to shots through community organizations that can help bring 
people to clinics.

   Biden touted creative efforts to make it "easier and more fun" to get 
vaccinated, such as grocery stores offering discounts to shoppers who come to 
get shots and sports leagues that hold promotions to gets shots for their fans.

   Ahead of the Food and Drug Administration's expected authorization of the 
Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 12-15, the White House is developing plans to 
speed vaccinations for that age group. Biden urged states to administer at 
least one dose to adolescents by July Fourth and work to deliver doses to 
pediatricians' offices and other trusted locations, with the aim of getting 
many of them fully vaccinated by the start of the next school year.

   While younger people are at dramatically lower risk of serious complications 
from COVID-19, they have made up a larger share of new virus cases as a 
majority of U.S. adults have been at least partially vaccinated and as 
higher-risk activities like indoor dining and contact sports have resumed in 
most of the country.

   Officials hope that extending vaccinations to teens -- who could get the 
first dose in one location and the second elsewhere, if necessary -- will 
further accelerate the nation's reduced virus caseload and allow schools to 
reopen with minimal disruptions this fall.

   The urgency to expand the pool of those getting the shots is rooted in hopes 
of stamping out the development of new variants that could emerge from 
unchecked outbreaks and helping the country further reopen by the symbolic 
moment of Independence Day, exactly two months away. Though White House 
officials privately acknowledge the steep challenge, Biden sounded an 
optimistic note.

   "The light at the end of the tunnel is actually growing brighter and 
brighter," Biden said.

   Biden's speech comes as the White House announced a shift away from a strict 
allocation of vaccines by state population. The administration says that when 
states decline to take all the vaccine they have been allocated, that surplus 
will shift to states still awaiting doses to meet demand.

   Governors were informed of the change by the White House on Tuesday morning.

   This week, Iowa turned down nearly three quarters of the vaccine doses 
available to the state for next week from the federal government because demand 
for the shots remains weak. Louisiana, meanwhile, hasn't drawn down its full 
vaccine allocation from the federal government for the last few weeks.

   Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Louisiana's 
coronavirus vaccination rate is well behind most states. About 27% of state 
residents are fully vaccinated while 32% have received at least one dose of the 
vaccine, according to the state health department.

   The White House previously resisted efforts to distribute vaccine by metrics 
other than population. Biden rebuffed Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month 
when she requested more doses as her state was experiencing a surge in virus 
cases. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the time nearly all states 
were ordering at or near their population allocations, which is no longer the 
case.

   Individual states have made similar shifts internally to account for 
changing demand. Last week, Washington state changed the way it allocates 
coronavirus vaccine to its counties. Previously the state doled out supplies to 
counties proportionate to their populations. But now amounts will be based on 
requests from health care providers.

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