President Joe Biden speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, United States on Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
Samuel Corum | Bloomberg | Getty Images
With less than three weeks to Independence Day, President Joe Biden’s recent vaccination goals are in jeopardy.
The country is not on track to meet its two main goals outlined in early May: to fully vaccinate 160 million American adults and to have 70% of adults in the United States given at least one vaccination by July 4, according to a CNBC analysis the Centers for Disease control and prevention data.
According to CDC data, around 65% of adults will be at least partially vaccinated by Wednesday. About 13.6 million would have to get their first vaccination over the next 18 days to increase that number to 70%, an average of about 756,000 new vaccinations per day. However, in the US, an average of 336,000 newly vaccinated adults were vaccinated per day per day over the past week.
If the US maintains this last seven-day average, 67% of adults will be at least partially vaccinated by that day.
When asked about the consequences of missing the 70 percent target at a press conference last week, White House Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Fauci said July 4th won’t be the end of the country’s vaccination efforts as the risk of infection and disease persists for those who haven’t been given a chance.
“If you miss the exact target and miss a few percent, it doesn’t mean you stop your vaccination efforts,” Fauci said. “We want to reach 70% of the adult population by July 4th. I think we can, I hope we can, and if we don’t, we will keep moving forward.”
Fauci stressed that people who do not get vaccinated are still at risk. “When you get vaccinated, you dramatically, dramatically reduce your risk of infection and almost eliminate your risk of serious illness,” he said.
Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, also stressed the importance of vaccination to prevent the Delta variant, which was first identified in India and quickly emerging as the dominant strain in the UK, from catching on in the United States.
White House Covid Tsar Jeff Zients told reporters Thursday that the US would pass the 70% mark and “continue to go beyond 70% in the summer months” but did not say whether he expected the country will reach this mark by the target date.
Biden’s goal of 160 million fully vaccinated adults will also be missed if the pace of vaccination does not pick up in the next few weeks. Nearly 142 million adults have completed a vaccination program to hit about 152 million as of July 4, assuming the current pace of daily vaccinations reported remains constant.
When Biden first announced the two goals on May 4th, the country was well on its way to scoring both. But the vaccination rate has fallen in the weeks since then from a seven-day average of 2.2 million vaccinations per day across all ages on the day of the announcement to 1.2 million per day on June 16, according to the CDC.
The White House has doubled recent efforts to increase vaccination rates. Biden announced June as “national month of action,” when his government would mobilize national organizations, community and religious partners, celebrities, athletes and other influential groups to take part in the vaccination campaign. The White House also urged pharmacies to extend opening hours for the month of June and partnered with Uber and Lyft to offer free trips to vaccination sites.
States are also offering incentives ranging from free beer to $ 1 million worth of lotteries in an attempt to convince Americans to prick themselves.
While the statewide quota is still about 5% away, 14 states and the District of Columbia are already past the 70% mark. New York is the last to get there, and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state would lift most of its Covid restrictions as a result.
Other states are lagging behind, 22 of which are below the 60% mark. These include Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Wyoming, each of which less than 50% of its adult residents hit one or more shots.
The U.S. has undoubtedly made strides in fighting Covid, and nationwide case numbers have dropped to levels not seen since the pandemic began, which U.S. officials attribute to the country’s vaccination campaign. American life is closer to normal before the pandemic than it has been since last March, when the CDC lifted most of its mask recommendations and began easing travel restrictions.
Even so, parts of the US with low vaccination rates pose a risk to the country’s ability to control the pandemic, said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University.
“Once you have an unvaccinated population, it is a vulnerable population and in cases it is likely to see an increase,” she said. Due to the constant spread, new variants can arise with the possibility of circumventing the protection provided by vaccines.
“It is valuable to have ambition and very ambitious goals ahead of us, and I think we should do our best to achieve those goals,” said El-Sadr of Biden’s July 4th goals. “If we don’t get there, it doesn’t mean we accept it as failure and stop doing what we are doing. It means we redouble our efforts.”