“In two months, let’s celebrate our independence as a nation and our independence from this virus,” Biden said from the White House.
He is also setting a goal to have 160 million Americans, roughly half the U.S. population, fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by that date.
Currently 56% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 40% are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose, the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna each require two shots, spaced several weeks apart, for full efficacy.
Biden’s focus is now on getting the vaccine to three groups: people who are having difficulty accessing it; people who need encouragement to be vaccinated; and people under 16, as soon as the Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccines for ranges in that age group ― which may be imminent.
The administration’s plan includes directing pharmacies to offer walk-in vaccinations, using Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to bolster pop-up and mobile vaccine clinics, and giving hundreds of millions in funding to community-based organizations and local governments to encourage vaccine uptake and education, especially among underserved communities.
“There are millions of Americans who just need a little bit of encouragement to get the shot,” Biden said Tuesday.
The plan also includes directing funding to improve vaccine rates in rural communities, whose residents may have trouble getting to the mass vaccination sites in dense, urban areas.
“We know that vaccination rates are lower in rural areas,” Biden said, “and that’s why we’re going to get vaccines closer than ever to rural residency.”
Biden also emphasized that young people who are eligible for the vaccine should get one as soon as they can.
“There are a lot of younger people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, who believe they don’t need it,” Biden said. “I want to be absolutely clear: You do need to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated not only protects you and also reduces the risk that you give the virus to somebody else ― it could save your life or the lives of people you love.”
Vaccination rates across the country are not even. At 61%, New Hampshire leads in percentage of people who have received at least one shot, closely followed by several other northeastern states. Mississippi, the state with the lowest rates currently, has reached just 31%, according to a New York Times tracker. Louisiana and Alabama have similar rates.