The United States will likely surpass President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million shots within 100 days on Wednesday, Biden announced from the White House — hitting the benchmark with more than a week to go before Biden’s hundredth day in office.
The number is also double Biden’s original target of 100 million shots in his first 100 days, which he originally laid out in December of last year.
“I’m proud of the work my administration has done to get Americans vaccinated. But more than that, I’m proud of the American people,” Biden said, adding: “This is an American achievement, a powerful demonstration of unity and resolve, what unity will do for us, and a reminder of what we can accomplish when we pull together as one people to a common goal.”
Despite the massive surge in vaccinations across the country, Biden said there is still much more work to be done. As of Monday, April 19, all Americans aged 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine, and the president encouraged every single person to do so when they are able.
“To put it simply, if you’ve been waiting for your turn, wait no longer,” Biden said. “Now is the time for everyone over 16 years of age to get vaccinated.”
Still, Biden acknowledged that many Americans cannot afford to take time off of work to get the vaccine, nor can they afford the sick hours to deal with the side effects.
In order to abate these fears, the president on Thursday also announced a new leave tax credit for small businesses who allow employees to take time off to get vaccinated, and for time it takes to recover from any vaccine side-effects.
In unveiling the tax credit, the president issued a call to action for all companies to offer paid time off for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m calling on every employer, large and small, in every state, to give employees the time off they need, with pay, to get vaccinated,” Biden said. “No working american should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfil their patriotic duty of getting vaccinated.”
The paid leave tax credit “will offset the cost for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full pay for any time their employees need to get a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination,” according to the White House.
With funds from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the paid leave tax credit will offset the cost of businesses and nonprofits with under 500 employees for up to $511 per day per employee of paid sick leave, up to 80 hours (10 work days, assuming an 8-hour work day) between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2021.
The president highlighted a number of businesses already working to incentivise their workforce and customers to get vaccinated, calling out Kroeger’s $100 stipend for employees who got their shot as a positive example.
Biden also praised Patty Young, a salon owner in Springfield, Ohio, saying she is “dedicated to getting her customers and employees vaccinated” against the disease.
“When [customers] leave the salon, the receptionist helps sign you and your family up to get a COVID vaccine and where to get it,” Biden said of Young’s salon. “They've scheduled more than 200 shots so far. Businesses and employers like Patty should be supported for doing the right thing.”
With roughly 28 million vaccine doses being delivered each week, demand has eclipsed supply as the constraining factor to vaccinations in much of the country. While surveys have shown that vaccine hesitancy has declined since the rollout of the shots, administration officials believe they have to make getting vaccinated easier and more appealing.
Only 43% of working adults have been vaccinated, according to data from the federal government, compared to over 80% of seniors.
According to administration officials, 30% of unvaccinated employees say they'd be more likely to get a COVID-19 shot if their employer provided an incentive; 80% of workers said they wanted time off for recovery.
Maximizing the number of Americans vaccinated in the coming months is critical for the White House, which is aiming to restore a semblance of normalcy around the July Fourth holiday and even more so by the beginning of the next school year.
To achieve that goal, Biden said Thursday there is still more work to do in the months of May and June.
“We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot,” he said. “To Americans 16 years and older: It’s your turn now.”
In recent weeks the White House has launched a massive outreach campaign to Americans to get vaccinated, relying on funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan relief package passed last month to launch ads and fund direct community engagement to under-vaccinated constituencies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.