Florida risks not meeting July 4 goal of 70% vaccination

Ben Kiriisa knew his dad was serious about him getting vaccinated when he called him Benjamin.

"Benjamin, you need to be safe," Kiriisa recalled his father saying.

Wednesday afternoon he joined the ranks of Floridians who have gotten at least one dose, accepting the CDC's assurance the shots are safe.

"I feel safer," he said.

In Florida, 61% of those 18-and-up have gotten their first shot. Nationwide, that number is 64%, the New York Times reports.

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"Our goal by July 4 is to have at least 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot," President Biden said May 4.

Kiriisa got his dose at a pop-up clinic in Ybor City, run by Health Matters Pharmacy. They were giving more than five dozen doses a day back in March. Now, they're giving well under two dozen.

State data shows 1.4 million doses were given the week of April 2, but have slid to only 356,000 the week of May 28. 

"The longer it takes to vaccinate, the longer the pandemic goes on for us, the longer we know we don't have relatively normal lives," said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at University of South Florida Health.

Dr. Teng warns of allowing variants to continue forming among the unvaccinated. With 51% of all Florida residents having at least one dose, the Sunshine State is in the middle, looking up at Vermont's 72%, but down at Mississippi's 35%.

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The country is on pace to hit only 67% by Biden's benchmark day of July 4.

"I sound like the skeptical person, but I do know I will possibly get the vaccine soon," said Jasman Wynn of Tampa.

One analysis found that last week, only 2.4 million got their first dose.

That number needs to be at 4.2 million to hit 70% by July 4, according to the Washington Post.