WASHINGTON, June 18 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris urged Americans on Friday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the country is at risk of missing White House vaccination targets for the month next because a new variant of the coronavirus has raised serious concerns.
“Act now, act now,” Biden said in a speech at the White House, urging the unvaccinated to speak to their family and friends who have been vaccinated and to their doctors.
Deaths and hospitalizations are declining “dramatically in places where people get vaccinated,” but not in other areas, Biden said. “They actually go up in some places. “
At the current rate, it seems unlikely that the United States will meet Biden’s target of having 70% of adults receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, the public holiday of independence Day.
About 65.1% of people in the United States had received at least one injection as of Friday, and that score has risen by less than a percentage point in the past two weeks.
That pace is expected to more than double over the next two weeks for the United States to meet the target.
The White House did not immediately comment on the possibility of missing the 70% target of July 4. Currently, only 15 states and Washington, DC have reached this level.
U.S. government data also shows a political divide, with the states won by former President Donald Trump lagging far behind in vaccination rates compared to those won by Biden.
“When you get the vaccine for yourself, it means you probably won’t pass it on to someone else in general because you’re unlikely to get COVID,” Harris said in a campaign vaccination at the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. is it an extension of your neighbor’s love? She said, to which several people in the audience replied, “Amen!”
The United States administered 300 million COVID-19 vaccines in 150 days, a White House official said on Friday ahead of Biden’s speech.
First Lady Jill Biden and other officials mounted a campaign-style campaign to encourage more Americans to have their photos taken, using public appearances, local media interviews and advertisements to allay lingering concerns.
Officials said Biden’s pressure to speed up vaccinations since taking office in January was paying off, with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths at their lowest level since the pandemic began in early 2020 .
Earlier this week, the United States marked a dark milestone, surpassing 600,000 deaths from COVID-19. Read more
The death toll in the United States remains the highest in the world, although other countries, including Brazil, Britain and Russia, have higher death rates as a measure of their population.
A White House fact sheet said the death toll from COVID-19 has declined 90% since Biden took office in January, when more than 3,300 Americans were dying every day, and put in evidence of big gains in the economy as people return to work.
He said more than 175 million Americans had received at least one injection and 55% of adults were fully immunized.
“A SERIOUS CONCERN”
Tackling racial imbalances in vaccination rates remains a constant concern, the White House said, but also highlighted gains there. Over the past month, he said, people of color made up 54% of vaccinations nationwide, despite making up 40% of the U.S. population.
Biden said the new variant of the Delta virus, first detected in India, was “a serious concern” which highlighted the need to continue to increase vaccination rates.
“It is a more easily transmitted variant, potentially more deadly and particularly dangerous for young people,” he said. “But the good news is we have a solution. The science and the data are clear. The best way to protect yourself against these variants is to get the full vaccine. “
The Biden administration relies on religious leaders and community groups to help increase immunization rates and overcome persistent reluctance to immunize, especially among people of color.
“The church is always a place of healing. It’s so fitting that we do this here, ”Harris said in remarks to Ebenezer Baptist, where civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and his father once preached.
“We just need to get the word out. One of the most important ways is friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor… please help us get the word out, ”she urged.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama
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