While the pace of vaccinations in the United States has slowed, the nation is getting closer to the July 4 benchmark set by President Biden as it makes progress inoculating adolescents and those living in underserved communities.
The biggest gains in recent weeks have been made in vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, who became eligible for shots earlier this month, according to a New York Times analysis of data. And there has been progress in reaching some groups, including Latinos and people without college degrees, with the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy, according to the Kaiser Foundation.
All of these factors, along with a shift in the national strategy, are keeping the United States on pace to reach Mr. Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of the adult population get at least one shot by July 4. So far, 62 percent of adult Americans are there.
Vaccinated Americans have been encouraged to enjoy a summer that would have seemed unlikely last year. Americans are flying at rates not seen in about a year, many with plans to mingle among large crowds at parades and barbecues this Memorial Day weekend, the usual start of the summer in the United States.
People who are on the fence about getting a shot are more likely to get one if it is as easy as walking into a local pharmacy without an appointment, said Dr. Taison Bell, a critical care and infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia. Shifting resources away from the mass vaccination sites at stadiums to mobile clinics is starting to pay off, he said.
“The folks who were wait and see have seen the positive benefits,” Dr. Bell said, as their friends and family restart activities many put on hold for nearly a year. Even if they don’t believe in vaccines they don’t want to miss out, he said. “People are a lot more motivated.”
About 166.4 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pace, though, has slowed to about 1.5 million doses per day on average, half of the 3.38 million shots that were reported on April 13.
In April, after the rate of vaccinations peaked, Mr. Biden announced plans to target resources at places with lower immunization rates, including underserved rural areas and communities of color.
And as demand for vaccines slowed, Mr. Biden made the distribution and use of the vaccine more flexible. A national stockpile was created that could send doses where they were most needed. Pharmacies could accommodate walk-ins without appointments, and shots could be obtained at local doctor’s offices and mobile clinics. Community leaders were enlisted to reach out to the vaccine hesitant.
There has been some success with efforts to reach predominantly Black and brown communities. Nearly 50 percent of vaccinations administered through the pharmacy program have gone to people of color in the last few weeks.
In New York City, where more than 60 percent of adults have had at least one shot, the city is targeting Black and Latino residents, whose vaccination rates are about half the general population’s. Health officials are asking community groups to go door to door to reach unvaccinated people, and the city has also hired companies to promote vaccination in mostly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
Mr. Biden worked with Uber and Lyft, the two biggest U.S. ride-sharing services, to help jump-start the slowing vaccination rate in mid-May. The companies are offering free rides to vaccination sites until July 4.
In several states — including California, Colorado, Maryland, Ohio and Oregon — governors have dangled incentives in the form of lotteries that include cash prizes, scholarships and gift cards to keep the momentum going.
The incentives are a way “that moves the needles” for people who are waiting to get vaccinated, Dr. Bell said.
“I applaud them for being creative,” he said. “It eschews these false notions that we can’t appeal to people’s purse to make a good decision.”
Protesters gathered on Saturday outside a hat store in Nashville that sold “not vaccinated” Star of David patches and compared vaccine passports to the Nazi practice of requesting “your papers.”
The store, Hatwrks, said on Instagram in a post that was later deleted that it was selling the patches for $5. Amid an outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks across the country, the post was criticized on social media and outside the store, where protesters held signs saying “no Nazis in Nashville” and “sell hats not hate.”
A separate post to the store’s Instagram account — which also touted “mask free shopping” and promoted the conspiracy theory that vaccines have microchips in them — said that “all unvaccinated people will be segregated from society, marked and must wear a mask. What comes next?”
The hat company Stetson said that “as a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by Hatwrks,” it would stop selling its products through the store.
A post on the store’s account responding to the criticism said that “I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance.” A later post apologized “for any insensitivity,” saying “my hope was to share my genuine concern and fear, and to do all that I can to make sure that nothing” like the Holocaust “ever happens again.”
Gigi Gaskins, who according to state records is the store’s owner, did not respond to requests for comment.
Criticism of vaccine passports, or digital proof of Covid-19 vaccination, extends beyond the United States: In London and Brussels on Saturday, demonstrators gathered to protest vaccination requirements.
Oregon said last week that it would require businesses to verify the vaccination status of customers before allowing them to enter without a mask, though business groups there questioned the practicality of the requirement. New York has created the Excelsior Pass, but is not requiring that it be used widely.
In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed into law on Wednesday legislation prohibiting local governments from requiring businesses to verify proof of vaccination.
Like many European countries, France had a slow start to its vaccination drive. But as it has gotten better at getting shots in arms, it is administering inoculations in unexpected places.
Disneyland Paris. The national stadium. And a decommissioned World War II submarine base in the western city of Lorient, where almost 60,000 shots have been given.
In K2, one of the three large blocks of the Kéroman Submarine Base, tents and chairs have been set up for patients and medical staff between the concrete walls of a windowless room that covers more than 9,500 square feet.
Over the past 80 years, the base has had many lives. A military installation until 1997, it has since served as a concert venue, a filming location and a site for sailing and other leisure activities. It is now a neighborhood of its own, complete with bars and restaurants.
The structure was built in 1941 after France surrendered to Germany and was one of five Atlantic Coast bases used to launch German U-boats. Lorient was nearly destroyed under Allied bombardment in 1943, but the base was almost unscathed.
“It is a pretty dark symbol in our history,” said Lorient’s mayor, Fabrice Loher.
To convert the base to a vaccination center, officials revamped the heating system to reduce the spread of the virus and added an art exhibit to give people something to look at while waiting for their shots.
The center delivered more than 6,000 doses over the past week. As coronavirus cases decline in France, which has seen about 5.7 million total cases and more than 100,000 deaths, more than 15 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Among the first to receive a shot at the former submarine base was a Frenchman, now in his 90s, who was conscripted by the Germans during the war to repair and work on the reassembly of submarines, said Jean-Michel Pasquet, the chief of the vaccination center. It was the first time the man had been back to the base since the war, Mr. Pasquet said.
“He told us it was a beautiful symbol of resilience,” Mr. Pasquet said. “This bunker that used to build warships to kill people now embodies a comeback to life.”
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