WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced Friday the U.S. has administered 300 million COVID-19 shots in 150 days, a milestone moment in the campaign to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
“What we’re seeing is a truly American accomplishment, 65% of American adults have gotten at least one shot, including 87% of our seniors. Just five months ago we were at only 5% of adult Americans,” Biden said during remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic at the White House.
As of Friday morning, nearly 315 million shots have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden also touted closing the racial gap in vaccinations.
President Joe Biden speaks about reaching 300 million COVID-19 vaccination shots, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ORG XMIT: DCEV311
“More than 58% of shots administered by federally run vaccination sites have gone to people of color. Across the nation people of color have accounted for more than half of all vaccinations in the last month,” Biden said.
“The more we close the racial gap in vaccination rates, the more lives we’ll save,” the president added.
Earlier this month, Biden announced a monthlong effort to persuade more Americans to receive the vaccine. The announcement included a “Shots at the Shop,” initiative that brought together 1,000 Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons to serve as vaccination locations.
During his remarks, Biden warned the nation about the need to get vaccinated and the dangers of a COVID-19 Delta variant, which devastated India last month.
“The best way to protect yourself against these variants is to get fully vaccinated,” Biden said.
“The truth is that deaths and hospitalizations are drastically down in places where people are getting vaccinated. But unfortunately, cases and hospitalizations are not going down in many places, in the lower vaccination rate states. They’re actually going up in some places,” Biden continued.
It has been an uphill battle for the nation to meet Biden’s goal to have 70% of U.S. adults receive at least one COVID-19 shot by July 4. Only 65% of adults age 18 and above have received one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC.
On Tuesday the U.S. surpassed 600,000 COVID-19 deaths and now has more than 33.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“People getting seriously ill, being hospitalized due to COVID-19, are those who have not been fully vaccinated,” the president said.
Biden also offered words of hope for a beleaguered nation.
“We’re heading into, God willing, a summer of joy, a summer of freedom. On July 4, we’re going to celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate the independence of our nation,” Biden said. “Let’s get this done, all of us together.”
More: Biden’s new goal: 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4
Contributing: Nada Hassanein, Joey Garrison
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden touts 300M COVID-19 vaccines given in US, eyes July 4 goal