WASHINGTON – For months, President Joe Biden set goal after goal to tame the coronavirus pandemic, then surpassed his own benchmarks. Now, however, the United States is on the verge of falling short of its target of at least partially vaccinating 70% of Americans by July 4.

The White House has launched a month-long blitz to address vaccine reluctance and the lack of urgency to get vaccinated, especially in the South and Midwest, but it is increasingly resigned to missing the President’s vaccination target. Administration insists that even if the target is not met, it will have little effect on the overall recovery of the United States, which is already ahead of what Biden announced months ago. .

About 16 million unvaccinated adults need to receive at least one dose over the next four weeks for Biden to reach his goal. But the pace of new vaccinations in the United States has fallen to about 400,000 people a day, from nearly 2 million a day two months ago.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday that he still hopes the goal will be met “and if we don’t, we’ll keep pushing.” .

So far, 14 states have reached 70% coverage among adults, with about a dozen more on track to reach the milestone by July 4. But the variation from state to state is striking.

Fauci said the administration “implores” states, especially those with low immunization rates, to step up efforts in the coming months, although some of the lagging states barely share the urgency.

In a conference call Tuesday, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients made a passionate appeal to governors to join the administration in “pushing hard” on vaccinations this month -this. “We need your leadership on the ground more than ever, where it matters most,” he said.

In Mississippi, which trails the nation with only about 34 percent of its population vaccinated, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves called Biden’s goal “arbitrary, to say the least.”

The state’s vaccination rate has dropped so sharply that it would take almost a year for the state to reach the 70% target.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Reeves said he was encouraging residents to get vaccinated, but the most important marker was the decline in cases in the state.

This sentiment makes winning over people like University of Mississippi student Mary Crane all the more important for Biden to achieve his goal. She did not feel much urgency to be vaccinated against COVID-19 because she has already had the virus and the family she lives with during the summer vacation has been vaccinated.

“Initially, it was about waiting for everyone to get it done and not getting vaccinated,” she said, explaining why she was not vaccinated. “But now that it’s available, there’s really no reason I haven’t had it other than I just haven’t had it.”

Crane, 20, said he saw classmates eager to get vaccinated right away – there was a tendency when the vaccine first came out to post vaccination cards on social media sites like Instagram . But now that the vaccine has been available for a few months, Crane said she is seeing fewer young people talking about it.

“Everything is pretty much back to normal now,” she said.

Fauci stressed on Tuesday that increased vaccination was essential to eliminate potentially dangerous variants, including the so-called ‘delta variant’ first identified in India which is now the dominant strain in the UK and is growing in the States. -United Vaccines have been shown to be less effective against this variant when people are not fully immunized, and evidence indicates that it is more transmissible and deadly.

In an effort to increase the vaccination rate, the White House has worked to encourage a range of incentives for people to get vaccinated – from paid time off to the chance to win a million dollars. He’s partnered with community groups, businesses and healthcare providers to make injecting easier than ever. Those efforts helped keep some of the interest going, but trends indicate Biden missed the mark by several percentage points.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine created a lottery offering million dollars in prizes for vaccinated adults and full college scholarships for children. The Ohio Lottery has launched a wave of similar incentive lotteries nationwide.

DeWine’s May 12 announcement of the state’s Vax-a-Million program had the desired effect, leading to a 43% increase in the state’s immunization count from the previous week. But the impact was short-lived, with vaccinations declining again the following week.

For some, the chance of winning $ 1 million is not enough to overcome skepticism about the need for the vaccine.

Joanna Lawrence of Bethel in southwest Ohio says the COVID-19 survival rate is so high and the experiences of people she knows who have taken the vaccine are so bad that she doesn’t see the need to risk an injection for herself. She survived her own coronavirus crisis in August.

“My life is not worth money,” said Lawrence, 51, who cultivates and works in commercial real estate. “I can always get more money if I need it. I can’t have another life.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to predict whether the goal would be met, but said the administration was using “every tool at our disposal to get there.”

“No matter where we are on July 4th, we are not closing the store,” she said. “On July 5, we will continue to push to vaccinate more people across the country.”

Husband and wife Keila Moore, 41, and Willie Moore, 42, of Pearl, Mississippi, disagree on whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Willie said he knew he wanted to get it because he has high blood pressure and other pre-existing conditions and is a frontline worker.

“As soon as I had a chance to get it, I took it,” said Willie, who was vaccinated in February.

But Keila, who has no pre-existing conditions and works from home, has so far chosen not to get the shot.

After her husband was vaccinated, she tested positive for the virus. She said it was a mild case, but it was still a frightening experience. She said she felt more open to getting the vaccine and was considering doing so this fall, though reports of side effects continue to be minimal.

“I’m just still weighing the options and the timing,” she said. “I’m a little more confident in it now that the time goes by because the time goes by and I don’t really see any side effects that are too worrying.”

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