President Joe Biden plans to recognize another milestone in the U.S. campaign against the pandemic today: Americans have received nearly 300 million doses of vaccines.
COVID-19 cases have plunged in the country in step with vaccinations, prompting many people to resume pre-pandemic activities like indoor dining, sporting events, concerts and travel in recent weeks. But a large swath of Americans — particularly in the politically conservative South — have declined shots despite warnings from health authorities that the virus remains a threat.
About 65% of Americans 18 and older have had at least one dose, according to the CDC, and 142.5 million adults are fully vaccinated. But at the current pace — about 237,000 first doses per day — Biden will fall short of his July 4 goal of 160 million adults fully vaccinated and 70% with at least one shot.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Georgia today to encourage vaccination. The U.S. should cross the 300 million shots milestone later in the day or on Saturday, Biden’s 150th full day in office.
The president is scheduled to speak about the U.S. vaccination campaign this afternoon in Washington, before departing for his home in Wilmington for the weekend.
Biden’s goal could be met shortly after the U.S. Independence Day holiday. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have partially vaccinated 70% of adult residents.
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Regardless, the U.S. — which only recently announced plans to share its massive stockpile of vaccines with needy countries — remains far ahead of most of the world. The European Union has lifted travel restrictions on U.S. residents as the summer vacation season kicks into gear.
But the U.S. also reached a grim milestone in the pandemic this week, as the death toll eclipsed 600,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Public health officials have stressed that danger remains, as the highly transmissible Delta variant first seen in India is expected to become the dominant strain in the U.S.
Studies have so far shown U.S.-authorized vaccines to be highly effective against the variant, though the protection is significantly lower for those with only one dose of shots with a two-dose regimen.