WASHINGTON – The federal government plans to change the way vaccine doses are distributed among states, allowing some governors to refuse doses they don’t need or want, as President Joe Biden does pressure to get at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for 70 percent of adults by July 4.
Administration officials told governors on Tuesday that if a state does not want its full allocation, the vaccines will go into a pool and be redistributed to states that need them, a senior administration official said. For weeks, some states, like West Virginia, have been reporting unused doses as demand declines, while others, like Michigan, have been calling for more.
“This is really just an indication that we are now at a different phase than we were even a few weeks ago in terms of access to supply, and we want to make sure that we are releasing unused doses and not ordered, ”White House spokesman. Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
The move comes as Biden also aims to have 160 million Americans vaccinated with the two doses by Independence Day, a senior administration official said. Currently, 56% of adults have received at least one vaccine and 105 million are fully vaccinated, the official said. To reach out to this remaining group, Biden said the federal government will make it easier to access the vaccine, encouraging companies to offer incentives for people to get vaccinated and to step up the messaging campaign for those with safety concerns.
“Now we’re going to have to get the vaccine to people who are less eager,” Biden said. “So we also know that there are millions of Americans who just need a little bit of encouragement to get vaccinated.”
To meet these goals, the United States plans to deliver an additional 100 million doses over the next 60 days, a significant slowdown in the pace of immunizations from the past 100 days.
Biden outlined several new measures the administration is taking to try to reach those who have not yet been vaccinated, including using $ 860 million from the Covid-19 relief bill passed in March to help fund the rural health clinics and hospitals; and $ 250 million in funding for community organizations to help with education and awareness about vaccines.
Among the hardest-to-reach groups that the administration targets are communities in largely rural states, such as Mississippi, Utah, and Alabama, which have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the world. country. To make it easier for Americans in rural communities to access the vaccine, the administration will send doses directly to thousands of health clinics in those areas.
The United States will also require all retail pharmacies receiving vaccine doses from the federal government to offer walk-in vaccines and encourage states to do the same at their sites. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will increasingly dispatch mobile vaccination units and set up small temporary vaccination sites to reach harder-to-reach groups.
“I think that at the end of the day most people will be convinced that their inability to get vaccinated can cause other people to get sick and eventually die,” Biden said.
If the Food and Drug Administration allows the Pfizer vaccine to be used in children ages 12 to 15 – a decision expected to be made by next week, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the situation – the federal government plans to do so immediately. ship doses to pediatricians and family physicians and make them available at 20,000 locations for this age group.
A senior administration official said the 70% mark would not necessarily mean the United States has achieved collective immunity because public health officials do not know the precise level where it will be achieved. But it will lift further restrictions and bring life back closer to normal.
“The more you vaccinate people, the more you can opt out of certain public health restrictions,” a senior administration official said. If the United States is able to meet the 70% target, “we can do whatever we all want to do, which is keep going and gradually revert to the restrictions, so that we can get back to our normal lives.” “
Laura Strickler contributed.