U.S. on track to miss July 4 vaccine goals as Delta variant looms

The United States stands at 65.3% of adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 143,573,099 fully vaccinated as of Sunday. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI

June 21 (UPI) — The United States appears unlikely to reach President Joe Biden‘s vaccination goals as a more contagious COVID-19 variant has led to rising case numbers in some parts of the country.

With two weeks left to meet Biden’s goal of 70% of American adults with at least one vaccine dose and 160 million adults fully vaccinated by July 4, the United States stands at 65.3% of adults with one dose and 143,573,099 fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC data show that a total of 379,003,410 vaccine doses have been delivered nationwide with 317,117,797 administered as 149,034,744, or 52.6% of the total eligible U.S. population, including children age 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

As of Sunday, 15 states plus the District of Columbia had vaccinated at least one vaccine dose: Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Washington, California, New Mexico, Hawaii. Vermont has the best percentage at 84.4

Mississippi is the lowest at 45.4%.

On Saturday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted that the state was nearing 70% of adults with one vaccine dose, the deadline the state has set to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

“68.5% of Oregonians 18+ have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which means we need just 51,616 more people to take their shot so we can hit our 70% goal. We are so close, Oregon — now let’s get this done,” she wrote.

Appearing on CBS News Face the Nation, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner and current Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb said it likely would not make a public health difference if the Biden administration falls just short of its vaccination goal but said it must seek to expand vaccine outreach to continue driving inoculations.

“Now, we need to think about trying to push out the vaccine into community sites where people could get it delivered to them through a trusted intermediary,” said Gottlieb. “That’s going to mean doctor’s offices, schools, places of employment. We need to think about a different vaccine delivery strategy to get the people who are still reluctant or who still face challenges getting into those access sites.”

Amid the vaccination effort, the United States continues to lead the world in total COVID-19 cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic with 33,538,971 infections and 607,780 fatalities reporting 21,820 new cases and 170 deaths from the previous day on Sunday, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

Cases have been rising in rural portions of Missouri and Kansas as an outbreak of the so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus, which originally emerged in India, has become more prevalent.

The CDC upgraded the variant from a “variant of interest” to a “variant of concern” this past week as the agency estimated it has accounted for 10% of new cases in the United States.

Missouri had the highest percentage of Delta variant cases with 6.8% of reported cases as of May 22 while Amanda Cackler, director of safety at the University of Kansas Health System told ABC News that neighboring Kansas has also experienced a surge in Delta variant cases.

Both states have been lagging in administering vaccines as just 43.6% of each state’s population has received at least one dose, according to state data.

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