President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his administration’s push for all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will continue, despite the country missing the president’s goal of 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.
"Millions of fully vaccinated Americans are getting back to living their lives as they did before," Biden said. "Businesses are reopening and hiring and rehiring. And projected economic growth is the highest it's been in four decades."
"The bottom line is the virus is on the run, and America is coming back," the president continued. "Coming back together."
Biden touted the fact that more than 182 million Americans – 54.9% of the population – have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"This is one of the greatest achievements in American history, and you, the American people, made it happen," Biden added.
But the Democratic president urged Americans to get vaccinated, calling it "the patriotic thing to do," and outlined the steps his administration will take to get more shots in arms.
"Now we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood" in their efforts to get people vaccinated, Biden said, noting that COVID-19 vaccines will be increasingly available to family doctors and other health care providers serving younger people, including at fall sports physicals.
By the end of the week, according to a White House official, the U.S. will approach 160 million Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19, reaching another key milestone against the pandemic.
As of July 4, more than 157 million Americans were fully vaccinated, or 47.4% of the population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Per CDC data, 67% of the U.S. adult population has gotten at least one vaccine dose, more than 173 million, with 58.2% of that group — more than 150 million American adults — fully vaccinated.
Biden outlined five key areas of focus by the administration to get more Americans vaccinated, including:
- More door-to-door outreach: Targeted, community by community, door-to-door outreach to get the remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is;
- Aid for primary care health providers: A renewed emphasis on getting the vaccines to more and more primary care doctors and other health care providers so more Americans can get a shot at their doctor’s office;
- Increase vaccines available for pediatricians: Stepped-up efforts to get vaccines to pediatricians and other providers who serve younger people, so adolescents ages 12-18 can get vaccinated as they go for “back to school” checks ups or get ready for fall sports;
- Expand accessibility for workers: Continue expanding efforts to make the vaccine accessible for workers, including setting up vaccination clinics at work and PTO for employees;
- Expanding mobile clinic efforts
"The bottom line is my administration is doing everything it can to lead a whole-of-government response at the federal, state and local level to defeat the pandemic," Biden said.
Biden warned that the fight against the virus is "not over," warning that millions of unvaccinated Americans are putting their communities, families, friends and loved ones at risk, especially in light of the more transmissible delta variant.
"It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice and it should cause reconsideration especially in young people," Biden said, adding: "Please get vaccinated now."
“The best thing a community can do to protect themselves is to increase vaccination rates," Biden said. "You can do this, you can do this. Let’s finish the job. Finish it together.”
Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that she "did not expect" that Biden would set a new vaccination target date in his remarks: "Our work is going to continue, person by person, community by community, and we're going to meet people where they are."
On Sunday, to mark the United States’ 245th birthday, Biden welcomed 1,000 military personnel and essential workers to the White House to celebrate the country’s “independence from the virus” — a return to normalcy for many Americans.
The barbecue at the White House was the first large-scale event hosted by the Biden administration since taking office in January. At the event, he honored first responders and military service members, saying they "became the light to see us through the darkness."
In a speech at the White House on Sunday, Biden celebrated America's progress against the COVID-19 pandemic, but conceded that there is more to do to beat the coronavirus.
"My fellow Americans, it’s the most patriotic thing you can do," Biden said, urging Americans to get vaccinated. "We don’t want to go back to where we were a year ago today."
Biden said the country has “gained the upper hand against this virus,” but added: "Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged, like the delta variant."
"We just have to remember who we are," the president said. "We are the United States of America and there’s nothing, nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”
Biden also honored the more than 600,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States.
"This day falls hard on all those who’ve lost a loved one," the president said. "Each day, I carry a card in my pocket with my schedule on it. On the back of that schedule, on that card, I have the number of Americans who’ve lost their lives to COVID.”
“The American people should be proud of the work that we've collectively done, and we want to recognize that progress,” Jeff Zients, coordinator for the White House COVID-19 Response team, said last week.
The U.S. is currently vaccinating around 900,000 people per day, up from the previous week but lower than averages above 1.3 million in mid-June, and well below the peak of about 3.5 million per day in April.
An analysis from the Washington Post predicts that the U.S. will hit Biden’s July 4th goal by August.
Federal health officials said last week the government stands ready to send COVID-19 surge response teams to areas of the country with low vaccination rates, as the contagious delta variant spreads throughout the country, especially in states with fewer shots in arms.
“In some communities in the country, we're intensifying our efforts to help states prevent, detect and respond to hotspots among the unvaccinated by mobilizing COVID-19 surge response teams,” Jeff Zients, coordinator for the White House COVID-19 Response team, said.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week that the mutation was the second-most prevalent in the U.S., accounting for 25% of cases, but she expects it to become the most common in a matter of weeks. She warned that delta poses the most threat to people who are not vaccinated.
“Communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable,” Walensky said.
“The good news we have is that we have a solution,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, countered. "The science is clear. The best way to protect yourself against the virus, and its variants, is to be fully vaccinated.”
The president said last week that he is “concerned” about “people who have not gotten vaccinated have the capacity to catch the variant and spread it to other people who have not been vaccinated,” but noted he is “not concerned that there's going to be a major outbreak.”
Still, Biden expressed optimism for a brighter future ahead: “The Fourth of July this year is different than the Fourth of July last year and it will be better next year."