President Joe Biden praised the accelerated vaccination in the United States — where a record four million shots were administered in a single day on Saturday— but his administration hasn’t backed off his goal of having enough people vaccinated for an unrestricted July 4 holiday.
“Even when at the record speed we’re moving, we’re not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million, which is going to take time for a two-dose vaccine,” Biden told reporters Tuesday, announcing that he’s calling on states to allow anyone to get vaccinated starting April 19 — an updated benchmark from May 1. “We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still in a life and death race against this virus.”
Biden noted the “incredible progress” that has been made toward the rising vaccination rate but again stood by his goal for families to be able to gather by July 4.
Medical experts have estimated that 70 percent to 90 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated or have antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection to reach what’s known as “herd immunity” and would allow for pre-pandemic conditions to resume with little risk. That would be about 245 million people in the U.S. There have been 150 million vaccines administered to date. At the new record-setting pace, that condition could be met mid-summer, though officials are still attempting to address vaccine hesitancy in some communities.
Biden visited a mass vaccination site in Virginia on Tuesday to promote the effort, while Vice President Kamala Harris visited a vaccination site in Chicago.
“I think If everyone continues down the road that we’re on now, it will be behind us but it’s not over yet,” Biden said. “We’re in a situation where I believe by end of the summer, we’ll have a significant portion of the American public vaccinated.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that the push to get enough vaccines has led the administration to call on governors to open all residents up to vaccines, after months of prioritizing older people and those with preexisting conditions.
“We have expedited the supply, so there’s been nearly 90 million doses provided to states in just the last three weeks,” she said. “There’s enough supply, there are enough vaccinators, there are enough vaccination sites that every American adult is eligible April 19.”