White House extends COVID vaccine target past July 4 as those under 27 derail efforts

·3 min read

The White House COVID-19 team announced Tuesday the nation is “close to achieving” but likely won’t make President Joe Biden’s goal set in early May for 70% of all adults to have at least one coronavirus shot, with 160 million fully vaccinated by July 4th.

And young adults are partly to blame.

The U.S. has met Biden’s goal of having 70% of adults get at least one shot before Independence Day only for those aged 30 and older, but it will take a “few extra weeks” beyond July 4 to get 18- to 26-year-olds to the 70% threshold, according to Jeffrey Zients, the head of the White House Covid-19 response team.

This means Biden’s vaccination goal will be pushed further into the year, given the original target involved all American adults.

A new CDC report released Monday found that people between 18 and 24 years old had the lowest vaccination coverage and intent to get their shots from March to May. Black people and those with a lower education status, no insurance, lower household incomes and living outside major cities were also the least likely to get vaccinated and the most hesitant.

About 34% of the 2,726 adults aged 18 to 39 who completed the CDC survey said they received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Among them, about 52% were already vaccinated or “definitely planned to get vaccinated,” 23% were “probably” going to get their shots or were “unsure” about it and 25% said they “probably or definitely would not get vaccinated.”

Intent and vaccination coverage was the lowest when the age bracket shrunk to those between 18 and 24 years old.

More than 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of June 21, about 45% of the total population, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker. Nearly 56% and 53% of adults and those aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated, respectively.

“The reality is, many younger Americans have felt like Covid-19 is not something that impacts them and have been less eager to get the shot,” Zients said during a briefing Tuesday, adding that with the Delta coronavirus variant spreading, “it’s more important than ever that they get vaccinated.”

The number of daily vaccinations have been on a steady decline since peaking on April 8 with more than 4.3 million doses administered; the seven-day average at the time stood at 3.1 million shots a day.

The most updated data on daily vaccinations from June 16 shows that slightly over 827,000 shots were administered, with a seven-day average of nearly 856,000.

Common concerns in the CDC report among people aged 18-39 who were unsure, “probably” or “probably not” going to get vaccinated centered around experiencing side effects, lack of trust in the shots, not believing the vaccine is necessary, wanting to wait to see if the vaccines are safe and effective, and fears of getting COVID-19 from the shot.

“Ensuring that vaccines are easily accessible, convenient and available in places where young adults live and work could improve vaccine acceptance and coverage,” the CDC said. The report also suggested messaging to emphasize how getting vaccinated can help young adults resume social activities.

Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said during the briefing that Biden’s extended goal “is not the goal line nor is it the end game.”

“The end game is to go well beyond July 4 and into the summer and beyond, with the ultimate goal of crushing the outbreak completely in the United States,” Fauci said, adding that the nation’s main obstacles include unvaccinated people and regions and more contagious variants.

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