June 2 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a series of initiatives to get 70% of Americans vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, calling for a "summer of freedom."
Biden set the 70% target last month and another goal of having 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by Independence Day.
Vaccination numbers have fallen off in recent weeks as coronavirus restrictions have been eased nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 51% of the total U.S. population (168 million) have received at least one vaccine dose. About 41%, or 135 million, are fully vaccinated.
"It's clearer than ever: The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we're gonna have in our fight against this virus," Biden said, adding that he hopes this summer is very different from last year's.
"A summer of freedom. A summer of joy. A summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we've all endured," he said.
As part of the push, Biden's administration is asking for help from national organizations, community-based and faith-based partners, celebrities, athletes and other influential groups, the White House said.
National pharmacies including Albertsons, CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens will be open for 24 hours on Fridays to allow Americans with scheduling conflicts to receive the vaccine at all hours of the night. Childcare providers KinderCare, Learning Care Group, the YMCA and Bright Horizons also will offer free care to parents needing the time to get the vaccine or recover from any side effects.
Measures also included in Biden's plan this month include a "mayors challenge" to encourage vaccinations and an initiative to "engage Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons." Biden also called on workplaces to make it easier for their employees to take the time needed to get the vaccine during work hours.
"The administration is [also] launching the COVID-19 College Challenge, where colleges and universities can take a pledge and commit to taking action to get their students and communities vaccinated," the White House said.
The White House also said Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a National Vaccination Tour to encourage vaccinations in "key communities."
In conjunction with the administration's June push, Anheuser-Busch announced Wednesday that it's partnering with the White House to offer its own incentives to Americans who've received the vaccine. The company said it will buy a beer, seltzer, non-alcoholic or any other beverage it makes for everyone who's vaccinated when the United States reaches its 70% vaccination goal.
"We pride ourselves on stepping up both in times of need and in times of great celebration, and the past year has been no different," said CEO Michel Doukeris. "As we look ahead to brighter days with renewed optimism, we are proud to work alongside the White House to make a meaningful impact for our country, our communities and our consumers."
Vermont leads the nation with 51.2% of its population fully vaccinated, followed by Massachusetts, according to Johns Hopkins University. Mississippi has the fewest (25.4%), followed by Alabama (27.3%), Louisiana (29%) and Arkansas (29.2%).