President Joe Biden outlined plans to vaccinate 70% of US adults by July 4 and get vaccines for children 12 to 15 years old as soon as possible.
Biden’s new goal includes having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by Independence Day.
The goal is well within reach given that 105 million have already received Covid-19 vaccine and the United States is vaccinating almost one million adults a day.
But the vaccination rate is half what it was just three weeks ago.
Biden said his government is working to convince “skeptics” about the shots.
Israel – the world leader in vaccination rates – has almost completely reopened its economy and seen its number of new coronavirus cases drop to almost zero, with just over 60% of the population having received at least one injection.
Biden said at the White House on Monday: “In two months, we will celebrate independence as a nation and our independence from this virus. We can do this and we will do this.”
The Democratic president also announced a new website, vaccines.gov, that Americans can use to find vaccination sites more easily, after widespread complaints that the application process was too difficult for some.
There is also a phone number that Americans can send by text message to send their zip code and learn about vaccination locations in their area.
Mr. Biden had already set the goal of “getting back to normal” on July 4th.
What is the plan for children?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is evaluating whether it approves the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 years and older.
The Pfizer vaccine is currently approved in the United States for people aged 16 and over.
Mr. Biden said he would not interfere with the FDA process, but “if that announcement comes, we are ready to act immediately”.
The president told reporters, “We will also deliver vaccines directly to pediatricians, send them to pediatricians, over the next few weeks, so that parents and their children can talk to the family doctor about it and get the injection from the provider where they are. trust most. Easy, fast and free. “
He added that 15,000 pharmacies would also be made available to teenagers to receive their vaccine.
“And if teenagers are on the move this summer, they can get their first chance in one place and get a second chance in another,” he added.
If approved, the vaccine will be immediately available to around 17 million adolescents aged 12 to 15 years.
The president’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the children will likely need to be vaccinated in order for life to return to normal.
With 75% of elderly Americans now fully vaccinated, infection rates have increased in unvaccinated children, a study suggests.
According to research released on Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children in states that count Covid cases by age now account for about 22.4% of all new infections. This represents a significant increase from the 3% of new daily cases at this point in the past year, the study concluded.
What incentives are being offered?
Biden also said he was talking to American companies to announce discounts on purchases for vaccinated Americans.
“We are working with major sports leagues to launch special promotions for their fans. Things like ticket gifts, stadium vaccinations, merchandise discounts and other creative ways to make getting vaccinated easier and more fun,” he said.
Biden also pleaded with Americans who are skeptical of the vaccine to get it anyway, for the good of their community.
“Even if your chance of getting seriously ill [due to Covid] is low, why take the risk when you have a safe, free and convenient way to avoid it?” he asked.
Several American companies have already offered rewards for those vaccinated.
Donut company Krispy Kreme is offering free candy for the rest of the year to anyone who can prove their vaccination.
A movie theater in Ohio is offering free popcorn to those who get the vaccine, and some marijuana dispensaries across the country are offering offers to anyone with a vaccination card.
Other large companies are offering leave for employees to be vaccinated. The Kroger supermarket chain is offering $ 100 (£ 72) in-store credit to vaccinated employees and auto parts company AutoZone is offering $ 100 to customers who have already had their vaccines.