US President Joe Biden set a new goal on Tuesday to have 70% of the US population receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by July 4, when Americans will celebrate Independence Day.
Biden's vaccine drive, which also seeks to have 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by that date, will focus on increasing walk-in appointments, creating more pop-up clinics, and increasing the number of mobile vaccination sites.
The administration will also revise how it allocates vaccine deliveries, now shifting focus from states with weaker demand to those where more people desire to get the jab.
Biden's July 4 goals necessitate that 100 million shots be delivered over the next 60 days even as the rate of vaccination slows across the country.
"As we anticipated, the pace of vaccinations is slowing now that the majority of American adults have already gotten their first shot. But we're still vaccinating millions of Americans every day," Biden said at the White House. "In fact, in the last 10 days, one out of every 10 adult Americans got a shot. But soon we'll have reached the adults who are eager to get vaccinated, and at that point, this effort will shift to a new phase."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to announce as soon as next week emergency authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech's two-dose COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15. Currently, only people 16 and older are covered by previous authorizations.
Should the FDA issue the authorization, Biden said his administration will be "ready to move immediately" but maintained the "FDA and the FDA alone will make that decision."
"Today, I want American parents to know that if that announcement comes, we are ready to immediately move to make about 20,000 pharmacy sites across the country ready to vaccinate those adolescents as soon as the FDA grants its OK," he said.
The administration will seek to ship vaccines directly to pediatricians so that families can consult with their doctors about vaccinating their children, Biden said.
Should the authorization be granted, Biden will challenge states nationwide to ensure as many individuals aged 12-15 as possible get at least one shot by July 4 with an eye toward school openings in the fall.
In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, the US is rolling out jabs from Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.
To date, about 44% of the US population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 32% of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Asked about sending some of the US's vaccine surplus stockpile abroad, Biden said that by July 4, the US will distribute roughly 10% of its supply to other countries.