Biden to announce US will meet 200 million shots goal by Thursday
President Biden will announce that the U.S. will reach his goal of administering 200 million COVID-19 shots by Thursday in a milestone about a week ahead of the deadline, administration officials said.
Officials on a call with reporters said Biden will make the official announcement on the progress of the vaccination effort later Wednesday afternoon.
Biden initially set his target at administering 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days before surpassing that goal last month and updating it to 200 million. The pace of vaccinations at the time he announced the new goal suggested the U.S. would reach 200 million vaccinations this week.
Attaining the landmark number of vaccinations comes as the administration reports more than 133 million Americans, or more than half of the adult population, have received at least one shot. This includes more than 81 percent of seniors who have been given at least one vaccine.
But administration officials pointed out that “only” 43 percent of working adults have gotten the vaccine so far, with one official noting, “We now know that we have to turn our attention to where we have our next big opportunity: working adults.”
To address this, the president plans to call on all businesses to provide their employees with paid time off to receive the vaccine and to recover from the vaccine if needed.
“The president believes that no one should have to lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they got vaccinated, plain and simple,” an official said.
“By providing paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, employers will not only be investing in their workforce, they’ll be investing in a safer workplace,” they added.
Officials said employers with less than 500 workers can receive a tax credit to get reimbursed if they allow employees to take vaccine-related time off. The credit amounts to up to $500 per day per employee, and the IRS will post instructions for employers to obtain the credit later on Wednesday.
A similar tax credit was first offered when the 2020 Families First Coronavirus Response Act required paid leave. The American Rescue Plan, signed by Biden earlier this year, extended the time that employers can redeem the tax credit until Sept. 30.
The administration officials said employers will be encouraged to offer incentives for their workers to get the vaccine. They pointed to data from the Society of Human Resources Management that showed almost a quarter of employed Americans who say they definitely or probably will not get the shot would consider it if their employer offered them paid time off, gift cards, cash bonuses or other incentives.
“Getting tens of millions of working Americans vaccinated is the key to getting our country back to normal, allowing small businesses to reopen, allowing Americans to safely visit places that they’d like to go,” an official said.
The achievement of 200 million vaccinations comes a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccinations due to six rare cases of blood clots.
It also comes as the seven-day average of vaccination doses being administered daily has dropped in recent days, according to Our World in Data.