White House urges young adults to get vaccinated against Covid-19

‘Few extra weeks’ needed to hit goal of administering one shot to 70% of adults by July 4th

The White House has urged young adults to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as the Biden administration conceded it will miss its goal of administering at least one vaccine shot to 70 per cent of adults by July 4th.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, coronavirus co-ordinator Jeff Zients said more than 70 per cent of adults over 30 would have received at least one shot by the Independence Day holiday, but that a lower take-up among young adults meant the 70 per cent target would not be reached.

“Where the country has more work to do is in particular with 18-26 year-olds,” he said.

“The reality is many younger Americans have felt like Covid-19 is not something that impacts them and they have been less eager to get the shot. However, with the Delta variant now spreading across the country and infecting younger people worldwide, it’s more important than ever that they get vaccinated.”


It would take “a few extra weeks” for the target to be reached, he said. Similarly, the US will narrowly miss Joe Biden’s target of having 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4th, with a new deadline of mid-July now pencilled-in.

Nonetheless, Mr Zients highlighted the progress the US had made in administering the vaccine, noting that nearly 80 per cent of over 65s were fully vaccinated, while more than 87 per cent of seniors had had at least one shot. He said the strategy of protecting the most vulnerable had “clearly” worked.

Delta variant

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci echoed warnings about the impact of the Delta variant, which now represents about 20 per cent of all new Covid cases in the United States. Displaying a slide showing the prevalence rate of the B.1.617.2 variant in the UK, he said the US may follow the trajectory of the UK, which has seen an uptick in Covid-19 case numbers due to the variant that was first identified in in India.

“Similar to the situation in the UK, the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the USA to elimination of Covid 19,” he said. Citing Imperial College research, he said young people were driving the surge in the UK.

But he said the “good news” was that vaccination protected against the variant and particularly against hospitalisation.

The White House task force said it was liaising with state, local leaders and key constituents such as social-media influencers and gaming companies to encourage vaccine take-up among the young. States across the country have offered incentives to residents to increase vaccination rates, including free baseball tickets and cash lotteries. About 1.1 million vaccines were administered each day last week, down from a high of more than three million in April.

Dr Fauci said that while 16 states plus Washington DC had now vaccinated 70 per cent of their residents with at least one shot, four states had vaccinated fewer than 50 per cent of adults.

With vaccine hesitancy strong among some parts of the population, Dr Fauci warned that there was a “real danger” that America could face regional spikes or outbreaks in some parts of the country, though he said it was unlikely that America could face another national surge. The prospect of localised surges, however, is “totally and completely avoidable by getting vaccinated,” he said.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent