President Joe Biden speaks on Covid-19 response and vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on June 2, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden on Wednesday doubled down on his administration’s efforts to get more Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 by July 4, a date the president has said he hopes will mark a turning point in the pandemic in the U.S.
In early May, Biden announced his administration’s new goals in the fight against the coronavirus: getting 70% of U.S. adults to receive at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by Independence Day.
Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, Biden announced June as the “national month of action” to get more Americans vaccinated by July 4. He urged unvaccinated Americans to get the shots, saying they are still at risk of becoming seriously ill, dying and spreading the disease to others, especially once the U.S. approaches the fall.
“I don’t want to see the country that is already divided be divided in a new way: between places where people live free from fear of Covid and places, when the fall arrives, deaths and severe illnesses return,” he said. “The vaccine is free, safe and effective.”
The president outlined his administration’s approach to its nationwide vaccine campaign, which he said would mobilize national organizations, community-based and faith-based partners, celebrities, athletes and other influential groups.
In details released ahead of Biden’s speech, the White House also said the administration has asked pharmacies to extend their hours for the month of June and disclosed it is partnering with child-care providers to offer free services to all parents getting vaccinated or recovering from the shots.
KinderCare and Learning Care Group as well as more than 500 YMCAs will offer the child services, Biden said later Wednesday.
The administration is also organizing efforts to call and text people in areas with low vaccination rates and is challenging mayors to compete with each other to see which city can increase shot rates the quickest, according to an email from the White House.
Other administration efforts include “Shots at the Shop,” an initiative that will engage Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons across the country to support local vaccine education and outreach efforts.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will also lead a tour – called the “We Can Do This” National Vaccination Tour – which will highlight “the ease of getting vaccinated, encourage vaccinations, and energize and mobilize grassroots vaccine education and outreach efforts,” according to the White House.
On Wednesday, Biden also touted the White House’s partnership with Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to vaccination sites until July 4.
“America is heading into a summer dramatically different from last summer,” he said. “Safely vaccinated people are shedding their masks and greeting one another with a smile.”
As of Tuesday, more than 162 million U.S. adults, or 62.8% of people 18 and over, have received at least one Covid vaccine, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 133 million U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
There was an average of 1.2 million Covid shots administered every day over the last week in the U.S. But some of the data over the long holiday weekend is incomplete, so vaccination rates may be higher.
Public health experts say Biden’s vaccination goal may pose a challenge for his administration as the U.S. has already inoculated those most enthusiastic about getting a vaccine.
Kevin Hensley is given the J&J COVID vaccine in coordination with the Cook County Health Dept. and the Chicago White Sox. Recipients were given a $25 card for discounts on concessions before Game One of a doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 29, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.
David Banks | Getty Images
In order to administer millions of more inoculations in the next four weeks, the White House has said the president will take additional steps to encourage more people to get vaccinated and make it easier for them to do so.
In addition to the steps announced Wednedsay, the Biden administration has worked to make getting a vaccine “as easy as ever” with many vaccination sites across the U.S. offering walk-ins.
The Biden administration in April launched a massive campaign to persuade more Americans to take the vaccines, which is using social media and virtual events where celebrities and athletes answer people’s lingering questions about the vaccines.
The CDC has updated its public health guidance to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 6 feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. Many public health experts say the change was designed to encourage more people to get vaccinated.