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The Biden administration is launching an all-out push to increase the U.S. vaccination rate, which has dropped more than 50% in recent weeks. Weijia Jiang has the latest.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Good evening, and thank you for joining us. We're going to begin tonight with the president's new goal to get 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4, part of what he's calling a new phase of his administration's fight against coronavirus. Tonight, the White House says the plan includes shifting doses to local pharmacies, adding walk in appointments, and closing down those mass vaccination sites.
And the move comes as the rate of new vaccinations nationwide is falling fast. About half as many Americans are getting their first shot now than were just a few weeks ago. And experts worry herd immunity may now be out of reach.
Well, Mr. Biden acknowledged today his new benchmark will require convincing people who are hesitant that the vaccines are safe. And he implored Americans to avoid that misinformation and talk to people they trust who have been vaccinated. The president also suggested that the FDA will soon sign off on giving Pfizer's vaccine to children as young as 12, saying the White House is already working on plans to offer the shots to teens once it gets approved.
Well, CBS's Mola Lenghi will have more on that in just a moment. But first, CBS's Weijia Jiang is going to lead off our coverage from the White House. Good evening, Weijia.
WEIJIA JIANG: Good evening, Norah. As the rate of vaccinations plunges, the administration is shifting its priority to making the vaccine easier to get than ever before, especially in rural areas. But the president said that the big hurdle is also convincing those holdouts to get the vaccine, arguing it's not only safe, but a life saver.
JOE BIDEN: I'm here to--
WEIJIA JIANG: President Biden once again pleaded with Americans to get a vaccine.
JOE BIDEN: We need you to bring it home. Get vaccinated. In two months, let's celebrate our independence as a Nation and our independence in this virus.
WEIJIA JIANG: As of today, about 57% of the adult population in the US has received at least one dose of the vaccine. President Biden is aiming to get that number to 70% by July 4. He also set a goal to have 160 million adults fully vaccinated by then, compared to 105 million so far.
The White House is focusing on three areas. Vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds as soon as the FDA authorizes it, which is expected soon. Making it more convenient to get a vaccine with more walk in appointments, pop up clinics, and mobile units. And boosting vaccine confidence.
JOE BIDEN: I want to be clear. I've been saying this a long time, but I really believe this is not a Democrat or Republican issue.
WEIJIA JIANG: But the demand for the vaccine is dwindling. The number of people getting a first shot or single dose is down 50% since peaking on April 11, two days before the administration announced a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. At least 25 states told CBS News they did not order all the supply that is available to them for this week.
Today, officials told governors that the doses they don't want would be reallocated to states with higher demands. The president said the decision to get vaccinated should not be difficult.
JOE BIDEN: People who are not fully vaccinated can still die every day from COVID-19. This is your choice. It's life and death.
WEIJIA JIANG: The president reminded young people who have been reluctant to get shots that it's not only about their lives but protecting others. Weijia Jiang, CBS News, the White House.