U.S. Will Narrowly Miss Biden's July 4 Vaccine Goal, as Youths Resist Push

The United States will fall short of President Joe Biden's goal of having 70 percent of American adults at least partially vaccinated from COVID-19 ahead of the July 4 holiday—a miss attributed primarily to hesitancy among younger people who are less likely to experience severe effects from the disease if they catch it.

Biden had initially set the goal of having shots in the arms of seven out of every 10 adult Americans as a way to celebrate "independence" from the pandemic that's killed 600,000 people in the United States during the pandemic.

Acknowledging that the country would fall short of the goal, Biden and his top COVID advisers sought this week to paint the outcome in a positive light.

On Twitter, Biden called the outcome so far "an American success story."

"The most important goal that we're focused on is what can people do, as a result of this vaccination effort," U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told reporters. "What are we able to do in our lives?"

More than 150 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated—about 45.2 percent. That translates to about 56 percent of adults 18 and older. The vaccine, which is free, is available to ages 12 and older.

Jeff Zients, whom Biden appointed as his chief COVID-19 relief czar, noted that 70 percent of people 30 and older have gotten vaccine doses. Meanwhile, states and localities have continued to hold pop-up vaccination sites and promotional activities.

"We're not slowing down—if anything we're speeding up—until we crush this disease," he said.

Murthy said the federal government is looking to incentivize and encourage vaccines especially for younger people, including sporting event and concert ticket giveaways. College campus leaders and celebrities also are being brought on to promote vaccine information.

"So many of our most meaningful movements for change have been led by young people—from the Civil Rights movement to our original fight for independence in America," Murthy said.

Let me be clear: Our vaccination program is an American success story.

When we took office, 3,000 Americans were dying every day. Now, hospitalizations have dropped by more than 90%.

I’m urging young people to carry us across the finish line by getting vaccinated today.

— President Biden (@POTUS) June 22, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, told reporters the ultimate goal is to eradicate the virus.

But he warned that there could be concentrated outbreaks, particularly as the world sees more contagious and dangerous mutations and variants of the virus.

"You could see localized surges," Fauci said. "All of that is totally and completely avoidable by getting vaccinated."

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COVID vaccinations trending below July 4 goal
Syringes and vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered to front-line healthcare workers at a drive-up vaccination site in Reno, Nevada, on December 17, 2020. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/Getty Images