WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden announced new measures to enable and encourage Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 Tuesday, as he set a new goal of 70% of adult Americans getting at least one shot by July 4.
Speaking from the White House Tuesday, Biden announced new ways for Americans to find and get a vaccine, including launching a new portal at vaccines.gov and a text-based service to connect them with vaccination providers.
By texting their zip code to GETVAX (438829), the president said Americans can learn “within minutes” where vaccine doses are currently available near them. He said the government will also call on tens of thousands of pharmacies to begin offering vaccinations on a walk-in basis this week.
“We’re going to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated,” Biden said.
Biden said once health officials sign off on kids age 12-15 receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, they will “immediately” make doses available at 20,000 pharmacy sites and ship them directly to pediatricians.
The president also announced his administration’s new goal of 70% of American adults getting at least one vaccine dose and 160 million being fully vaccinated by July 4.
“If we succeed in this effort as we did with the last then Americans will have taken a serious step towards a return to normal,” Biden said.
Biden also announced the U.S. will begin reallocating the number of coronavirus shots given to states, moving doses from states with lower demand to those with a higher interest in vaccines.
The change away from a strict by-population allocation comes as demand for the coronavirus vaccines has dropped nationwide, but especially precipitously in some areas, with some states turning down part or all of their weekly dose allotments. The federal government will now shift some of those doses to areas with higher demand, to speed shots in those areas.
The average number of doses given per day fell 27% from a high of 3.26 million on April 11 to 2.37 million last Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Individual states have made similar shifts internally to account for changing demand. Last week, Washington state changed the way it allocates coronavirus vaccine to its counties. Previously the state doled out supplies to counties proportionate to their populations. But Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that the amounts now will be based on requests from health care providers.
Governors were informed of the changes by the White House Tuesday morning.
More than 30% of adult Americans are fully vaccinated and mask mandates are easing up with federal approval. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that most capacity restrictions will end Wednesday, May 19.
“This is going to be the summer of New York City,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing last week. “We are all going to get to enjoy this city again, and people are going to flock here from all over the country to be a part of this amazing moment in New York City.”
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to suspend all remaining COVID-19 restrictions imposed by communities across his state, signing into law on Monday freshly passed legislation giving him sweeping powers to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the pandemic — including mask mandates, limitations on business operations and the shuttering of schools.
The restrictions rollback come as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for young adults age 12 and older by next week, a notable step in returning to normalcy. Currently, Americans older than 16 are approved for the shot.
However, with more contagious variants taking hold, efforts are underway to boost vaccinations, which have begun to lag.
About 105.5 million people, or 31.8% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data. 44.4% of the U.S. population, or 147.5 million adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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