The United States is still millions of shots away from President Biden’s original goal of getting 70% of American adults at least one dosevaccine by July 4, a milestone White House officials have admitted that they would probably miss at least a few weeks.
Now that some of the White House’s most-cited incentives for vaccinations will expire, from discounted Uber rides to free childcare, the Biden administration faces an uphill battle to increase vaccination rates that has slowed to a pace not seen since late last year.
That’s what the Centers for Disease Control said on Friday: that more than 172 million Americans, or about 67% of the adult population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 156 million have received both doses, or about 47%.
“I’ve been through several major crises now. And you set these goals because they force you and everyone else to be very, very focused on what matters most,” said Andy Slavitt, once a senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 team. which has now published a new book “Preventable” about the country’s pandemic response.
Slavitt praised Mr. Biden’s public goals and a corresponding avalanche of initiatives to raise awareness around the shots, even if the president missed his target on Independence Day.
“In any kind of crisis response, you have a very limited ability to test without wasting precious time. So the script in a crisis is really to try everything, even if you can’t necessarily attribute actions, then do your best to figure things out.” get it together,” Slavitt said.
The US currently uses fewer than 300,000 first doses per day on average, according to figures issued by the CDA. When Biden announced his goal on May 4, the country had averaged more than 820,000 first doses per day — close to what it would then need to reach 70%.
Following the president’s announcement in May, the Biden administration has launched a series of new efforts to expand access to the once scarce shots. A growing portion of the nation’s vaccine supply has been diverted from mass vaccination sites to smaller-scale clinics and roving teams of vaccinators. Stores in federal retail pharmacy program increased withdrawals in communities hard-hit by COVID-19 deaths, and are now making amends about a third of vaccines supplied to many states.
Soon, White House officials were aggressively promoting a website, hotline, and texting service to help Americans find readily available recordings near them. That tool has been used over 25 million times, one of the top developers of the Vaccine Finder site said recently.
The expansion of access to the injections has coincided with a flurry of new incentives touted by federal health officials for Americans to get a shot of COVID-19 vaccine, following polls suggest: many unvaccinated Americans were either too busy getting the injections or felt they didn’t need them.
Some came in the form of dazzling raffles and giveaways by states, which the Biden administration said would allow governors to use federal COVID-19 aid dollars to pay for. Another boost came with the broad lifting of mask requirements for fully vaccinated Americans in most settings and the expanded authorization of the Pfizer vaccine in adolescents.
But as the pace of the first doses accelerated in the days following those announcements, by June — when the Biden administration kicked off its “month of action” to deploy door-to-door screening and other campaign-like tactics to boost vaccinations. – the national moving average was again in free fall.
Attempts to build confidence in the vaccines, such as the “COVID-19 Community Corps” trying to recruit local leaders and health care providers to voice their concerns about the injections authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, have faltered. on what one top federal health official described as a “committed opposition.”
A lot of those on the fence about vaccinations pollsters told they would be more likely to take the photos if they had to return to their normal lives, such as flying on an airplane or attending large gatherings. Few companies are able to conduct more than cursory checks to verify that customers have been fully vaccinated, foiled by a patchwork of immunization dataso-called “vaccine passports” for reopening in many states.
Now the biggest gap in vaccinations remains among younger Americans: Less than half of those between the ages of 18 and 24 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to estimates. the CDC’s census.
While more rapidly spreading mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have sparked stern warnings from health officials in recent months, only about 26% of adults under the age of 40 have investigated by the CDC who did not plan to get vaccinated said they were concerned about contracting COVID-19.
“If you belonged to that category of younger people or were on the fence, if you didn’t feel urgency before, you feel even less urgent now,” Slavitt said, noting that the government is “to some extent a victim of our own success.” .”
Meanwhile, within a month, there could be a big opportunity to clear a common concern among the unvaccinated — and pave the way for many employers and schools wanting to demand the injections —: full FDA approval for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer announced the beginning of May that it had begun its Biologics License Application to obtain full FDA approval. Moderna followed beginning of June.
While the full approval process typically takes about 8 months, top FDA vaccine officials have said the regulator had processed these types of applications in just a few months amid past outbreaks and hoped “to try as good or better here.” to do” .”
“In this case, we plan to accelerate that review as they are already under emergency use authorization and most of the additional information coming in will be safety data and manufacturing information,” Dr. Peter Marks of the FDA on Endpoints. News in april.
“In past public health emergencies, for example with the meningococcal B outbreak in 2014, we were able to get through those BLAs in about 3-4 months,” Marks added.