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President Joe Biden has announced new strategies for the national COVID-19 vaccination program as demand for vaccinations drops. He also set a new goal for getting shots into people’s arms.
“Our goal by July Fourth is to have 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated,” he said Tuesday. “That means giving close to 100 million shots ― some first shots, others second shots ― over the next 60 days. Of course, Americans can still get shots after July Fourth, but no one should wait.”
Biden said that 220 million people were vaccinated during the first 100 days of his administration, easily breaking his goal of having 100 million people vaccinated that time frame.
The CDC says 44.5% of the total U.S. population (almost 148 million) has gotten at least one dose, and 32% (106 million) is fully vaccinated.
But demand for vaccinations is dropping fast. The CDC says that as of April 29, the 7-day average number of vaccinations was 2.6 million per day, down 10.7% over the previous week.
Since most people who want a first shot have been able to get it, the national strategy must change, Biden said. He outlined three strategy shifts:
A concentration on children 12-15. That age group is not authorized to receive the vaccine right now, but Biden said the FDA is reviewing data from clinical trials in children. The government is ready to ship vaccines directly to pediatricians to speed up vaccinations of those children, he said.
The FDA is expected to grant that authorization for the Pfizer vaccine next week.
Pfizer and Moderna are developing adolescent vaccines. Health experts say vaccinating children is crucial to getting the pandemic under control.
Making vaccinations more convenient. A new website (vaccines.gov) and a new texting system will help Americans find the closest vaccination site, Biden said. All federal “pharmacy partners” will start giving vaccinations without appointments. Large vaccination sites will shut down, and vaccines will be shipped to more rural areas. Grocery chains and sporting venues will be encouraged to offer discounts to the vaccinated.
The government also created a Spanish-language vaccine finder, Vacunas.gov. The move came days after this WebMD/Medscape story on poor language access to vaccines.
Overcoming vaccine hesitancy. Biden encouraged people who are unsure about the shots to realize that getting vaccinated can protect people they love, not just themselves. He encouraged them to talk to their doctor, pharmacist, faith leader, or somebody they know who got vaccinated.
“Look at the folks in your community who have gotten vaccinated and are getting back to living their lives ― their full lives. Look at the grandparents united with their grandchildren, the friends getting together again. This is your choice. It’s life and death,” he said.
The Associated Press reported that the administration also informed governors on Tuesday that vaccines will no longer be distributed based strictly on population.
With demand dropping, some states are not taking all the vaccines they’ve been allocated. Any surplus in vaccines will be moved to a pool open to any state that needs doses, the AP said.
The White House: “Remarks by President Biden on the COVID-19 Response and the Vaccination Program.”
CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States,” “COVID data tracker.”
The Associated Press: “Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4.”
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