Biden Administration Misses Vaccination Goal

The Biden Administration will miss its July 1 vaccination goal, but just barely.
Biden wanted 70% of American adults vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 1 and will get around 67% instead.

Key Takeaways

  • The Biden Administration came very close to meeting its goal of having 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4.
  • Nationally, about 67% of adults in the United States will have received at least one shot of vaccine by July 4, but the vaccination rates are lower in many states.
  • Lower vaccination rates in individual states or specific populations (such as young adults) mean that there is a risk that more outbreaks of COVID-19 could occur next winter. It also means that more variants of the virus could arise and spread.

The Biden Administration will just miss its goal of having 70% of American adults get at least one dose of a COVID-19 by July 4. Unless there is a sudden surge of vaccinations in the next week, only about 67% of adults in the United States will have received at least one shot by the Independence Day deadline.

Two of the three COVID vaccines that are currently approved in the U.S.—the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots—require two doses for full effectiveness, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one.

Seeking Independence From COVID

After acknowledging that it came up short on the goal, the White House shifted its focus to a milestone that it has met: 300 million shots were administered during the first 150 days of the administration.

According to Jeffrey D. Zients, the administration’s pandemic response coordinator, the amount by which the vaccination rate will fall short is not significant.

Speaking at a White House briefing, Zients said, “We have built an unparalleled, first-of-its-kind, nationwide vaccination program. And as a result, we have successfully executed the most complex, logistical task: Administering 300 million shots in just 150 days.”

Zients added that July 4th—the Independence Day holiday in the U.S.—was an auspicious goal set back in March for what he called "independence" from COVID-19. He also noted that at that time, the pace of vaccinations was so slow that it would have taken a full year to get to having 300 million shots accomplished.

COVID-19 cases and deaths are now down by more than 90%, but the number of Americans who have died from the disease recently passed 600,000.

Vaccination Rates Vary

In the U.S. currently, 70% of adults aged 30 and over have received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine. During the White House press briefing, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, added that adults aged 18 to 29 appear to have more reluctance to be vaccinated than older populations.

According to the White House, 16 states and the District of Columbia have already reached a vaccination rate for adults of 70%. However, the New York Times reported that 15 states (primarily in the South and the Rocky Mountain states) will take months—or even a year—to reach the 70% benchmark at the rate that shots are being administered there.

Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the New York Times that there are significant pockets of the U.S., or whole states, where there is a greater risk of another wave of COVID-19 infections occurring and that the higher vaccination rate seen on the national level can be misleading.

Will We Ever Reach Herd Immunity?

The ultimate goal of any COVID-19 vaccination program is to achieve herd immunity against the virus. Herd immunity occurs when a large enough percentage of a community becomes immune to a disease, which makes the spread of the disease less likely.

During the White House briefing, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, noted that a reasonable estimate of achieving herd immunity would be having between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population being immune to the COVID virus.

What Low Vaccination Uptake Means for Variants

Zients explained that the pockets of the U.S. where vaccination rates are low mean that there is a greater risk of the spread of variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Delta variant—which arose in India—is now spreading in the U.S. The variant is both more easily spread than the original virus and is associated with more severe illness. Fauci said that the Delta variant "is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19."

However, Fauci also pointed out that the available vaccines are effective against the variant—it's just a matter of getting people to get vaccinated.

The lower rate of vaccinations among young adults may require extra efforts on the part of the government and organizations and corporations, many of which are making special offers for people who are vaccinated.

Zients said that “where the country has more work to do is particularly with 18-to-26-year-olds." He added that many young people appear to feel “like COVID-19 is not something that impacts them, and they’ve been less eager to get the shot.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

By Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette has over 30 years' experience writing about health and medicine. She is the former managing editor of Drug Topics magazine.