Saturday 7/24/21

Biden's July 4 message: Getting vaccinated is act of patriotism

Biden marked the holiday with a large barbecue in the White House garden for around 1,000 invited guests
03 July 2021, US, McKinney: People gather at the McKinney Soccer Complex to attend the first public Independence Day-4th of July celebration since the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Chris Rusanowsky/ZUMA Wire/dpa
People gather at the McKinney Soccer Complex to attend the public Independence Day-4th of July celebration. Photo: Chris Rusanowsky/dpa.

US President Joe Biden issued a message to Americans on their national holiday Sunday that vaccination was key to achieving independence from coronavirus.

Despite numerous incentives and no shortage of supplies, the US has narrowly fallen short of a July 4 coronavirus vaccination target set by Biden.

Getting vaccinated is the "most patriotic thing you can do," Biden said at the Independence Day event in the White House garden.

"That's how we're going to stay ahead of these variants and protect the hard-won progress we've made," he said.

"So today, while the virus hasn't been vanquished, we know this. it no longer controls our lives, it no longer paralyzes our nation and it's within our power to make sure it never does again," Biden said.

Biden marked the holiday with a large barbecue in the White House garden for around 1,000 invited guests. Among them were many soldiers and health care workers and their families.

Biden had wanted 70 per cent of all adults to receive at least one dose by Sunday to mark Independence Day.

But so far, only 67%, or 173 million people, have received at least their first shot, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Around 58% of all adults are already fully vaccinated - meaning two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech's or Moderna's vaccine, or one dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.

Target not achieved

The White House had already acknowledged at the end of June that the vaccination target could not be achieved by the July 4 holiday.

The government's coronavirus coordinator, Jeff Zients, told CNN on Sunday that he did not assume the US had now reached a plateau from which there would be little further progress.

"Confidence in the vaccine, those who want to get the vaccine, that has grown steadily across time, as people have had friends and family and neighbours get vaccinated, and they see the safety and effectiveness in their loved ones," Zients said.

On average, around 1 million people are vaccinated every day - significantly less than the more than 3 million people at the height of the US vaccination campaign several months ago.

In relation to the total population of around 330 million people, 55% have now received at least the first injection.

Less vaccinated in rural states

In more rural states, especially in the south, the vaccination rate is significantly lower than in the rest of the country. There, the number of new infections has increased again, which experts attribute to the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

On average, there are now around 13,000 new infections every day across the US.

Many states offer incentives such as cash prizes to encourage people to get vaccinated. However, surveys suggest that the progress of the vaccination campaign is likely to slow further as a hardened minority rules them out.

According to surveys, those who are hesitant or totally refuse to vaccinate themselves could make up a good 20% of the population.