If Oklahoma is going to help President Joe Biden achieve his latest goal for vaccinations, Oklahomans are going to have to roll up their sleeves, literally and figuratively. Vaccinations in the state have now fallen below the national average.
President Biden has been successful so far in doing what he promised he would do, in terms of delivering vaccines and hitting vaccination milestones. On Tuesday he announced a new mark to hit.
"Our goal, by July 4," said President Biden at the White House, "is to have 70 percent of adult Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated."
That's almost 60 million more people getting their second shots or Johnson and Johnson's single shot in the next two months. At the pace with which people have been getting vaccinated until now, that would be easy, but the landscape is changing.
"As we anticipated," the President stated, "the pace of the vaccinations is slowing now that the majority of American adults have gotten their first shot."
Certainly, the pace has slowed in Oklahoma. After being among the leading states in getting people vaccinated from January through March, the state's vaccination rate dropped steadily in April. According to CDC data released today, 49 percent of adults in Oklahoma have had at least one shot; that's seven points below the national average of 56 percent, 35th in the nation. The state also ranks 35th in the percentage of adults who are fully vaccinated -- 37 percent versus the 41 percent national average.
President Biden says his administration is shifting to a new approach, which should boost numbers in Oklahoma and the nation.
"Our new phase will focus on three areas," said the President. "First, kids."
The FDA will is reportedly close to approving the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15.
President Biden says his administration will step up efforts to get shots to those who've wanted one, but had trouble getting it. And, he says, there will be a coordinated attempt at convincing those who have reservations about getting vaccinated to put them aside.
"[There's] a lot of misinformation out there," Mr. Biden noted, "but there is one fact I want every American to know: people who are not fully vaccinated can still die every day from COVID-19.
The number of deaths tied to the virus continues to drop. Total COVID deaths stand at just over 8,300 in Oklahoma and more than 578,000 nationwide.