Biden Shifts Vaccination Strategy in Drive to Reopen by July 4
President Biden, facing a slowing rate of vaccinations and a hope for near normalcy by Independence Day, said the government would shift from mass vaccination sites to local settings.
By Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland
WASHINGTON — President Biden, confronting lagging vaccinations that threaten his promise of near normalcy by July 4, on Tuesday overhauled the strategy to battle the pandemic, shifting from mass vaccination sites to more local settings to target younger Americans and those hesitant to get a shot.
In a speech at the White House, Mr. Biden said he was launching a new phase in the fight against the coronavirus, with a goal of at least partly vaccinating 70 percent of adults by Independence Day and with a personal plea to all of the unvaccinated: “This is your choice. It’s life and death.”
After three months of battling supply shortages and distribution bottlenecks, the Biden administration is confronting a problem that the president said was inevitable: Many of those who were most eager to get vaccinated have already done so. Vaccination sites at stadiums once filled with carloads of people seeking shots are closing, and states that once clamored for more vaccines are finding that they cannot use all of the doses that the federal government wants to ship to them.
Yet the administration’s own health experts say tens of millions more Americans must be vaccinated before the infection rate is low enough to return to what many people consider ordinary life.
The administration now wants tens of thousands of pharmacies to allow people to walk in for shots. It has also ordered up pop-up and mobile clinics, especially in rural areas, and it plans to devote tens of millions of dollars for community outreach workers to provide transport and help arrange child care for those in high-risk neighborhoods who want to be vaccinated.
To build up confidence in vaccines, federal officials plan to enlist the help of family doctors and other emissaries who are trusted voices in their communities.
In a new effort to match supply with demand, federal officials informed states on Tuesday that if they did not order their full allocation of doses in any given week, that vaccine would be considered part of a federal pool that is available to other states that want to order more. Until now, if states failed to order all of the doses allotted to them on the basis of population, they could carry over that supply to the next week.
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