United States President Joe Biden has announced a month-long effort aimed at getting 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4, the nation’s Independence Day.
Speaking during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday, Biden said his administration would work with local governments, the private sector and the American people to “pull out all the stops” to reach that goal.
“America is headed to a summer dramatically different from last year’s summer,” Biden said.
“A summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebration – an all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we have all endured.”
While nearly 52 percent of the US adult population is already fully vaccinated, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the US president urged adults under age 40 to get vaccinated in larger numbers.
More than 595,000 people have died due to the coronavirus across the US, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
In order to encourage more people to get vaccinated, Biden said during the month of June, vaccination sites such as pharmacies would offer jabs for extended hours, drop-in childcare services would be offered to parents, and Uber and Lyft would provide free rides to and from appointments.
“It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated,” he said, adding that the government would partner with hairdressers and barbers in order to reach communities of colour, as well.
“Local barbers, stylists – they become key advocates for vaccinations in their communities, offering information to customers, booking appointments for them, even using their own businesses as vaccination sites,” Biden said.
Biden said COVID-19 cases, as well as hospitalisations and deaths linked to the coronavirus, are significantly down thanks to the vaccination effort. Twelve US states have already reached the 70 percent milestone, he added, and several others are expected to reach that mark later this week.
The US has issued emergency authorisation for three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and the one-shot Johnson Johnson jabs – and Americans over the age of 12 also are eligible for vaccinations.
Biden took office back in January on a pledge to do more to end the COVID-19 pandemic than his predecessor Donald Trump, who was criticised for downplaying the threats of the disease and not doing enough to contain it.
Biden also said on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff, as well as First Lady Jill Biden would travel around the country on a “national vaccination tour”.
“We need everyone across the country to pull together to get us over the finish us,” he said. “I promise you we can do this.”