US on track to fall short of Biden's July 4 vaccine goal to get 70% of adults partially vaccinated

WASHINGTON -- The United States is in danger of not meeting President Joe Biden's July 4 vaccination goal. Biden wants at least 70% of all adults (i.e. those aged 18 and above) to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by that date.

An examination of the latest stats and polling reveals that if we continue on the current trajectory, we will not reach Biden's goal.

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveals that the vaccination rate is really slowing down. As of the CDC's June 3 report, 63% of adults had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That was up slightly from 62% from the report a week prior (May 27).

An additional 1% of adults a week completing their first dose is the lowest since the CDC started tracking this statistic in mid-February.

On May 27 and before, the 7-day rolling average for new adults getting a first shot never dropped below 1.5%.

The slippage in new adults getting the vaccine isn't shocking, but it is a bit surprising. While fewer new people were getting vaccinated after hitting a vaccination rate peak in mid-April, the slide seemed to come to an end in mid-May.

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The 7-day rolling average of new adults getting vaccinated stayed pretty consistent in the 13 days between May 14 and May 27. This was right around the time that the CDC announced that vaccinated people didn't need to wear masks in most situations. That announcement led to a spike in interest for people searching for where to get a vaccine and apparently in getting a dose of the vaccine itself.

The problem is that the uptick looks to have been temporary, and it has occurred when we're well short of Biden's 70% target.

Simply put, the current weekly rate of vaccination will not get us to 70% by July 4. With just a month to go until July 4, the current vaccination rate will put the US at somewhere between 67% and 68% of the adult population with at least one dose by Independence Day.

To reach 70% by July 4, we'll need a reversal of the current downward trend. We need to be averaging around 1.6% of the population getting their first dose each week from now until July 4. This is significantly higher than the vaccination rate this week.

Such a swing up is not impossible. Having 1.6% taking their first dose a week is actually pretty much what we had from May 14 to May 27. This is less than an additional 0.1 points more of the population needing to get a first dose a day than the rate that occurred during the week ending with the June 3 report.

The issue is that we really haven't seen the vaccination rate pick up since they become readily available in April. We've only seen declines pause.

The fact is, we're running out of people who have indicated that they want the vaccine as soon as possible. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll from late May found that 66% of Americans either had received a first COVID-19 vaccine dose or wanted one as soon as possible. This 66% is near the same percentage as where the current vaccination rate trendline indicates we'll end up by July 4.

The percentage of people who have either gotten their first dose or would get one as soon as possible in Kaiser's late April to late May poll barely jumped from 64% to 66%. It turns out that the latest campaigns to get people vaccinated (e.g. relaxing mask mandates for those vaccinated) don't seem to have had much of an effect in the long run. Mainly, they got people who were going to get vaccinations to get them sooner.

To reach Biden's 70% goal, it's clear that some people will have to be convinced to get the vaccine in the next month. There is 4% (enough to just get the US 70% when added to the previously mentioned 66%) who either have a vaccine appointment scheduled or plan to get their first dose in the next three months.

The key over the next month will be for these unvaccinated people to have a sense of urgency to receive their first dose.