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White House: Will miss vaccine goal

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-23 10:30
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White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients delivers remarks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

The White House on Tuesday publicly acknowledged that it would miss President Joe Biden's goal of having 70 percent of US adults receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 4.

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients on Tuesday announced a new goal: to give at least one shot to 70 percent of adults 27 and older through the July Fourth holiday weekend. More than 70 percent of Americans age 30 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Zients said.

It was the first time that Biden has failed to meet a vaccination goal he has set. In the past week, an average of about 353,000 adults have received their first vaccine each day. To reach Biden's original goal, that number will need to increase to about 892,000 adults newly vaccinated every day, according to a USA Today analysis.

If the rate of adult vaccinations continues on the current seven-day average, the country will come with about 67 percent of adults partially vaccinated by July 4, according to The New York Times.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have reached the goal already, but some states are at less than 50 percent of all adults, Zients said at a White House briefing.

The nation also needs "a few extra weeks" to ensure that Americans between age 18 and 26 are vaccinated at rates similar to older adults, Zients said at the news briefing. The age group has been proven to be least likely to get a vaccine when it's available for them, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released on Monday.

"The reality is, many younger Americans have felt like COVID-19 is not something that impacts them and have been less eager to get the shot," Zients said.

By May 22, vaccine coverage was lowest among those 18-29 years old. Nearly 25 percent of the age group reported that they probably or definitely would not get vaccinated, while 23 percent were unsure, the CDC study shows.

Adults 18-39 years with lower incomes, lower educational attainment, without health insurance, who were non-Hispanic Black adults who lived in suburban areas had the lowest reported vaccination coverage and intent to get vaccinated, the CDC study said.

Biden set two public goals May 4: seeing 70 percent of American adults receive at least one dose of the vaccination in two months and seeing 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by then. Zients acknowledged that the US also would miss that second goal laid out by Biden.

"We will hit 160 million Americans fully vaccinated no later than mid-July," he added.

Data from the CDC shows that more than 65 percent of adults have received at least one vaccine, while nearly 53 percent, or approximately 150 million people, are fully vaccinated.

The pace of vaccine administration has fallen significantly from its peak in early April, when more than 2 million adults were newly vaccinated each day, even as shots have become more available.

White House officials have argued that meeting Biden's vaccination goal is less important than the pace of the nation's reopening.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, stressed that the push to get more people vaccinated will continue.

"No one should think that when we reach 70 percent (of all adults) across the country that we are done," Fauci said. "We are not done until we completely crush this outbreak."

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