In a speech, President Biden celebrated the U.S. reaching a milestone 300 million vaccinations in 150 days while warning communities with low vaccination rates that they “will be very hurt” by the Covid-19 variants that are spreading across the globe.
“I see an important milestone that just didn’t happen on its own or by chance,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday. “It took the ingenuity of American scientists, full capacity of American companies and whole government response across federal, state, tribal and local governments.”
But, the president cautioned people who are not fully vaccinated that they will be especially vulnerable to the Covid-19 Delta variant. “People getting seriously ill and being hospitalized due to Covid-19 are those who have not been fully vaccinated,” he said. “[The Delta variant] is a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier, and particularly dangerous for young people.”
The president encouraged people who have not yet completed vaccination to “Get vaccinated now, now.” Currently, the nation is on track to miss the president’s July 4th goal of having 70 percent of American adults vaccinated. According to the most recent CDC data, 65.1 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, also issued a warning about the Delta variant on Friday, saying it will likely become the dominant strain in the United States. “When these viruses mutate, they do so with some advantage to the virus. In this case, it is more transmissible,” Walensky said in an appearance on Good Morning America. “[The Delta variant is] more transmissible than the Alpha variant, or the U.K. variant, that we have here. We saw that quickly become the dominant strain in a period of one or two months [in other countries], and I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the Delta strain here.”
Vice President Kamala Harris was also pushing vaccination on Friday during an appearance at a vaccine clinic at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. “When you get the vaccine for yourself, that means that you will not possibly pass it on to somebody else in general because you’re unlikely to get Covid,” the vice president said, adding, “Isn’t that an extension of love thy neighbor?”
Clinics like the one at Ebenezer Baptist are designed at reducing racial disparities in vaccination rates. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of CDC data, across 40 states, white people were receiving vaccines at rates 1.4 times higher than black people and 1.2 times higher than Hispanic people.
Even as the U.S. celebrates reaching 300 million vaccinations and the White House touts a 90 percent decrease in Covid-19 deaths since Biden’s inauguration, the nation marked a more somber milestone earlier this week as its Covid-19 death count exceeded 600,000 deaths from the virus.