Health experts explain what it means to miss Biden’s goal of 70% of US adults vaccinated by July 4 


The U.S. is not going to meet President Joe Biden‘s July 4 goal of having 70 percent of adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

As of July 3, around 67 percent of American adults have been vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In some states and counties, the vaccination rate is much lower. About 1,000 U.S. counties have seen less 30 percent of the population receive at least one shot.

Doctors warn these numbers mean that the country is still very far from reaching herd immunity, which is worrying as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant spreads rapidly in the U.S.

It could take years for the vaccine effort to truly reach everyone who is currently unvaccinated, said physician and health equity expert Dr Uché Blackstock.

Use the interactive map above to explore data from the CDC. 

On May 4, Biden announced a new vaccination goal for the U.S: an aim to administer at least one vaccine shot to 70 percent of the adults in the country by July 4.

The goal was calculated to help the U.S. approach herd immunity – a term that public health experts use to describe what happens when enough people in a community are protected against a disease so outbreaks cannot thrive in that setting.

Scientists have worked throughout the last year to determine what share of the population may need to be vaccinated for the U.S. to reach herd immunity. 

While it’s difficult to pinpoint a precise estimate, 70 percent has been considered a significant milestone on that path to protection.

The country had hit Biden’s previous big vaccination goal: 200 million vaccine shots were administered during his first 100 days in office.

But the U.S. fell short of this one with 66.8 percent of U.S. adults receiving at least one dose  and 57.9 percent fully vaccinated, CDC data show.

With the current slow pace of vaccinations – about 1.1 million shots are administered a day, according to Bloomberg – the country is unlikely to catch up to 70 percent over the weekend.

‘We don’t have enough people vaccinated, not even close, to reach herd immunity,’ Dr Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas and author of the Your Local Epidemiologist newsletter, told DailyMail.com.

‘It also means we’ve reached, or are about to reach, saturation [of the vaccine market]. We need to start becoming very innovative about how to address vaccine hesitancy as well as how to address vaccine equity.’

Some states have passed Biden’s goal with flying colors.

In Vermont, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, more than 80 percent of adults are partially vaccinated. Other states in the Northeast are catching up, as is New Mexico.

Meanwhile, some states in the South and Midwest are still under 50 percent.

Mississippi has the lowest one-dose adult vaccination rate at 46.3 percent. Only 38.3 percent of adults in the state are fully vaccinated.

County-level figures provide an even more granular perspective into which communities are and are not protected against Covid.  

Vaccination rates vary wildly across the U.S. from over 80 percent in some states to under 50 percent in others. Pictured: A man gets his shot at a clinic in Lansdale, Pennsylvania

At a press briefing on Thursday, CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said that about 1,000 counties have vaccination rates under 30 percent, making them highly vulnerable to the Delta variant and others.

‘The more the virus jumps from person to person, the more opportunity it has to mutate,’ Jetelina said.

A future mutation could evade our vaccines, so stopping COVID-19 transmission now is crucial.

In these under-vaccinated communities, we need to ‘put the [70 percent] goal aside and think of the challenges we’re dealing with,’ Blackstock, CEO of the organization Advancing Health Equity, told DailyMail.com.

Those Americans who aren’t yet vaccinated are very different from those who jumped to get appointments earlier in 2021, he said. 

Reasons for not yet being vaccinated vary based on where people live, their experiences with the U.S. healthcare system, their exposure to misinformation about the vaccines, and more. 

Daily vaccination rates have fallen from an average of more than three million per day in April to around one million per day in June and July

Daily vaccination rates have fallen from an average of more than three million per day in April to around one million per day in June and July 

Vaccination rates are also lower in many communities of color. 

Data compiled by Bloomberg show that almost every state has lower vaccination rates among black residents than among white residents.

‘A lot of people of color are still in the ‘wait and see group,’ said Blackstock, referencing vaccine surveys conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

‘And we know that if the vaccines are given full FDA approval, that will help move the needle for some people.’

Other people of color may be more willing to get vaccinated if they are able to get the shot from someone they trust, such as a primary care physician.

But even that solution is far from simple.

‘We know that, because of lack of access to health insurance, lack of access to quality healthcare, that there are probably a lot of black and Latinx Americans who may not even have a primary care provider,’ Blackstock said.

The U.S. ‘should be pulling out all of the stops’ to reach vulnerable communities in vaccination campaigns,’ Blackstock said. 

Jetelina similarly said that a grassroots movement is necessary, which means providing opportunities for unvaccinated people to learn about the vaccines and have their questions answered.

And that effort will need to be sustained beyond the current phase of the pandemic. 

Efforts to communicate the importance of vaccination and promote equity in healthcare more broadly can’t end with one summer campaign, Blackstock said.

‘[The messaging we need is] not for this summer, or this fall, it’s not even for 2022. It’s going to be for the next few years,’ she said. 

For now, though, both Blackstock and Jetelina recommended continued mask-wearing indoors – even for those who are fully vaccinated – to keep the variant at bay.

For those who are not yet vaccinated, they recommend getting a shot as soon as possible. Vaccination offers the best protection available against the Delta variant.



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