President Joe Biden likely will fail to reach a self-imposed COVID-19 vaccination goal, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.
Biden probably will fall short of the July 4 deadline he imposed in May to have at least one vaccine shot in the arms of 70% of the country's adults, according to Glen Nowak, a former spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That would offer Republicans something about which to criticize the White House, which despite having received relatively strong COVID-19 response poll numbers, must deal with vaccine hesitancy and the nationwide spread of the deadly Delta variant, the Examiner said.
The White House on Tuesday also acknowleged the goal of 70% of adults having at least one shot will not be met, CNN reported. White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients also told reporters that the goal of having 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by Indepence Day is unlikely to be met.
Roughly 370,000 adults are being vaccinated daily, but that needs to increase to an average of 848,000 for Biden to achieve his goal — something Nowak told the Examiner is unlikely due to adults hesitant or unwilling to get the shot.
"Getting large numbers of people in these groups to quickly get vaccinated by an arbitrary date is unlikely to happen," Nowak told the Examiner. "Reaching 70% of U.S. adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot will take patience and persistence to achieve."
Claremont McKenna College politics professor John Pitney, author of "The Politics of Autism: Navigating the Contested Spectrum," said Biden's July 4 goal is "tough" because he is "running into the headwinds of complacency and deliberate resistance.”
"As the economy opens up and the masks come off, people feel less social and psychological pressure to get the shot," Pitney told the Examiner. "And a substantial number of Republicans regard vaccine avoidance as their own declaration of independence."
Nowak said that immunizing 65% of adults, a level reached last week, remains a positive outcome. He added Biden’s July 4 goal probably motivated some people to get vaccinated.
Now director of the University of Georgia's Center for Health and Risk Communication, Nowak suggested Biden focus on addressing disparities, particularly states and territories where vaccinations are relatively low.
During a COVID-19 update on Friday, Biden said only 15 states and Washington, D.C., had reported 70% of adults receiving at least one shot, though 26 states and Washington had fully immunized 50% or more.
"Groups and communities with low rates will be highly vulnerable to infections and illness, as well as enable continued spread of the virus to others," Nowak told the Examiner.
Biden on Friday did not mention his July 4 goal. He instead talked up how 300 million doses had been administered 150 days into his presidency.
"Sixty-five percent ... of American adults have gotten at least one shot, including 87% of our seniors," Biden said. "Just five months ago, we were at only 5% of adult Americans.
"We’re heading into, God willing, the summer of joy, a summer of freedom. On July 4, we’re going to celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate our independence of our nation," he said. "We want everyone — everyone to be able to do that."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden has made "tremendous progress" concerning COVID-19 cases, deaths, shots, and his "ultimate goal" of returning the country to normal.
Psaki added that Biden’s July 4 goal was "bold" and "ambitious," and said the administration had struggled to connect with 18- to 25-year-olds.
During his own briefing last week, COVID-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients said he was confident Biden would achieve his July 4 goal, according to the Examiner.
"We've made tremendous progress," he said. "And we're now nearly 2 in 3 adult Americans — hundreds of thousands of people — are continuing to get their first shot each day.
"We are going to get to 70%, and we're going to continue across the summer months to push beyond 70%."
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