WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government is intensifying efforts to get younger Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 as concerns grow over the spread of a new variant that threatens to take over the country in the coming months.
The push is ongoing as the delta variant, first identified in India, has come to account for more than 20% of coronavirus infections in the United States in the past two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Diseases reported Tuesday. That’s double what it was when the CDC last reported the prevalence of the variant.
“The delta variant is currently the biggest threat in the United States to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s first infectious disease expert, said in a White House briefing on the virus. “Good news: our vaccines are effective against the delta variant.”
He added: “We have the tools. So let’s use them, and put out the fire.”
The White House acknowledged Tuesday that President Joe Biden will not achieve his goal of vaccinating 70% of all American adults with at least one shot from independence day. But he said he had reached that limit for those aged 30 and over and looked forward to meeting him for those aged 27 and over by the July 4 party.
Biden is also on track to miss a second goal – to completely vaccinate 165 million American adults as of July 4th. COVID-19 White House coordinator Jeff Zients has projected that it will take several more weeks to reach that number. On Monday, the United States passed 150 million vaccines.
“We don’t see it exactly as if something went wrong,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
However, administration officials said they were doubling their focus on vaccinating young Americans ages 18-26, who have shown they are less likely to get a vaccine when it is available to them.
The national rate of new vaccinations dropped sharply over the past month even as the vaccines became more available, with fewer than 300,000 Americans now receiving their first dose per day on average – a rate that, if sustained, will result in SU will not reach Biden’s 70% target until the end of July as soon as possible.
Officers are also on the rise. concerned about regional variations in the vaccination program.
More than 16 states and the District of Columbia have vaccinated 70% of their adult population. But others – particularly in the South and Midwest – are substantially behind, with four not yet reaching 50% of vaccination rates.
The White House has said meeting Biden’s vaccination goals is less important than the pace of the nation’s reopening, which also exceeds its own internal projections that the vast majority of the nation’s most vulnerable people are vaccinated. in all and cases and deaths have been at their lowest rates since the early days of the pandemic, with an average of about 11,000 new infections and fewer than 300 deaths a day. More states are reopening, with Michigan on Tuesday becoming the latest to remove a mask order and virus restrictions. The state had the nation’s worst firefight this spring.
“We have succeeded beyond our highest expectations,” Zeints said.
Americans at the highest risk of complications from COVID-19 are largely vaccinated, according to CDC data, but only 53% of 25-39 year olds have received a dose. Among those 18-24, it’s 47%.
“Where the country has more work to do is particularly with children aged 18 to 26,” Zients said.
Zients and government experts have said that the increase in the delta variant should motivate more young Americans to get vaccinated.
“The reality is that many younger Americans have felt that COVID-19 is not something that impacts them, and they have been less eager to get the shot,” Zients said. “However, with the delta variant spreading across the country today, and infecting the youngest people in the world, it is more important than ever that they be vaccinated.”
The variant takes root since there are warning signs about a possible source in cases in unvaccinated corners of America. Rural sections of Missouri, including Springfield and Branson, have seen a dramatic peak in COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks that health officials attribute in part to the delta variant that is spreading among younger residents, not vaccinated.
“There is a danger, a real danger that, if there is a persistence of a recalcitrance to be vaccinated, you could see localized spores,” Fauci said.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Alabama and Idaho are all under 40% of their population with at least one dose of vaccine.
The White House plans to focus on more and more local vaccination companies, with First Lady Jill Biden traveling Tuesday to Mississippi and Tennessee to promote vaccination and Biden himself will visit North Carolina on Thursday.
The variant contains half of new infections in regions that include Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.