President Joe Biden is setting a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70% of adult Americans by July 4, the White House said.
The new goal, which also includes fully vaccinating 160 million adults by Independence Day, comes as demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their vaccine doses unordered.
Mr Biden will call for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and will direct many pharmacies to do the same, and his administration is for the first time moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.
Mr Biden’s goal is a tacit acknowledgment of the declining interest in shots. Already more than 56% of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated.
The US 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 Mr Biden’s target.
Senior administration officials previewed the announcement on Tuesday before Mr Biden’s planned speech from the White House.
It comes as the Biden administration has shifted away from setting a target for the US to reach “herd immunity”, but instead focusing on delivering as many shots into arms as possible.
Officials said that Mr Biden’s vaccination target would result in 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 deploying hundreds of millions of dollars to try to boost interest in vaccines through education campaigns and access to shots through community organizations that can help bring people to clinics.