WASHINGTON DC, USA: US President Joe Biden has laid out plans to vaccinate 70% of US adults by 4 July and roll out the shots for 12- to 15-year-olds as soon as possible.
Biden’s new goal includes having 160 million adults fully vaccinated by Independence Day.
The target is well within reach given that 105 million have already had Covid-19 jabs and the US is vaccinating nearly a million adults per day.
Biden said his administration was working to win over “doubters” about the shots.
Biden said at the White House on Monday: “In two months let’s celebrate independence as a nation and our independence from this virus. We can do this. We will do this.”
The Democratic president also announced a new website, vaccines.gov, that Americans can use to more easily find vaccination sites after widespread complaints that the sign-up process was too difficult for some.
There is also a phone number Americans can now text to submit their postal code and learn about vaccination sites in their area. Biden had previously set the goal for life to be “back to normal” by July 4.
The US Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12. Pfizer’s vaccine is currently approved in the US for people as young as 16.
Biden said he would not interfere with the FDA process but “if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately”.
The president told reporters vaccines would be sent directly to pediatricians in the following weeks “so parents and their children can talk to their family doctor about it and get the shot from the provider they trust the most. Easy, fast and free.”
He added that 15,000 pharmacies would also be made available to teenagers to get their jab.
“And if teens are on the move this summer they can get their first shot in one place and get their second shot elsewhere,” he added.
If approved, the vaccine will immediately become available to some 17 million teenagers aged 12 to 15.
The president’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, has said children will probably need to be vaccinated for life to return to normal.
With 75% of American seniors now fully vaccinated, rates of infections have increased in unvaccinated children, a study suggests.
According to the research released on Monday by the American Academy of Paediatrics, children in states that count Covid cases by age now make up around 22.4% of all new infections. That’s up significantly from 3% of new daily cases at this point last year, the study found.
Biden also said he was speaking to US businesses to announce shopping discounts for vaccinated Americans.
“We’re working with major sports leagues to launch special promotions for their fans. Things like ticket giveaways, in-stadium vaccinations, discounts on merchandise and other creative ways to make it easier and more fun to get vaccinated,” he said.