Biden: US to hit 200M vaccine target on Wednesday
The United States has entered a new phase of its coronavirus vaccination effort, President Biden said Wednesday, as the nation will have administered 200 million coronavirus shots by the end of the day.
“Today, we did it. Today we hit 200 million shots on the 92nd day in office,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “It’s an incredible achievement for the nation.”
Biden had initially set the target to be met by the end of April.
Biden noted that the first three months of the country’s vaccination effort was targeted to seniors and health workers, but that has now changed.
By Thursday, Biden said 80 percent of people over the age of 65 will have received at least one shot.
Everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to get a shot, the president said, noting that 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of someplace they can get vaccinated. The administration’s partnership with pharmacies means shots are available at more than 40,000 retail pharmacies from coast to coast.
“To put it simply, if you’ve been waiting for your turn, wait no longer. Now is the time for everyone over 16 years of age to get vaccinated,” Biden said, adding that, despite the progress made, “the broad swath of American adults still remain largely unvaccinated.”
The pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent days, and the U.S. is increasingly close to a point at which will be more supply than demand. Overcoming hesitation and increasing the flexibility of the vaccination process to make it easier for everyone to get a shot who needs one will be key next steps.
Biden said he understands young people may not think they need to be vaccinated but reminded the public that hundreds of people are still dying from COVID-19 every day. He outlined two reasons people should be vaccinated: It can save your life, and it can protect your community.
“Vaccines can save your own life, but they can also save your grandmother’s life, your co-worker’s life,” Biden said.
Biden also urged the public not to grow complacent and said that the country is still on track to meet his goal of having small gatherings on Independence Day as long as Americans wear masks and practice physical distancing while they’re still not vaccinated.
“We all need to mask up until the number cases go down, till everyone has a chance to get their shot,” Biden said. “To Americans 16 years and older, it’s your turn now. Now. So go get your vaccine before the end of May. We can do this. And we’ll do this as long as we don’t let up.”
The White House has so far steered clear of vaccine mandates or “vaccine passports” and has instead focused on making it easier for the private sector to get employees vaccinated.
To that end, Biden on Wednesday urged small businesses to allow employees time off to be vaccinated and announced the launch of a new tax credit so businesses can be reimbursed for the costs of that paid leave.
Updated at 2:53 p.m.
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