By Maegan Vazquez, CNN
President Joe Biden highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and kicked off a community canvassing event during a speech in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Thursday afternoon, as his administration has continued its push to get American vaccinated against the virus.
“The data couldn’t be clearer. If you’re vaccinated you’re safe. You are still at risk of getting seriously ill or dying if you in fact have not been vaccinated. That’s just a fact,” Biden told the audience.
There’s particular concern among public health officials and the Biden administration that unvaccinated individuals will accelerate the spread of more transmissible, new variants of the virus.
During his remarks, Biden warned that the Delta variant of Covid-19 is dangerous and is “now the most common variant in America.”
“And unvaccinated people are incredibly vulnerable,” he continued, underscoring that the Delta variant is “more easily transmittable,” “potentially deadlier and especially dangerous to young people.”
“The good news is we have a solution. The science is clear. The best way to protect yourself against the virus and its variants is to be fully vaccinated. It works. It’s free. It’s safe. It’s easy. It’s convenient,” Biden added.
While in Raleigh, the President also toured a mobile vaccination unit and met with frontline workers and grassroots volunteers who are getting community members vaccinated.
Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and first lady Jill Biden also took part in events on Thursday encouraging more Americans to get vaccinated.
The events are part of larger, administration-wide push to get more Americans vaccinated, which comes as the nation approaches Biden’s July Fourth goal date of getting 70% of Americans at least one Covid-19 shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated. But this week, the White House has acknowledged that it will fall short of the President’s goal.
In North Carolina, roughly 38.8% of residents are fully vaccinated. Nationwide, some 45.4% of the total population has been fully vaccinated, according the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters earlier this week that the country is on track to hit its July Fourth goals in the coming weeks. He said on Tuesday that Biden’s Independence Day goal was “aspirational,” and touted the progress the administration has made in the last several months.
Zients also said the administration is now focused on getting younger Americans, particularly 18- to 26-year-olds, vaccinated against the virus.
“The reality is many younger Americans felt like Covid-19 is not something that impacts them and they’ve been less eager to get the shot. However, with the Delta variant now spreading across the country and infecting younger people worldwide, it’s more important than ever that they get vaccinated,” Zients said.
Vaccine coverage among young adults has been lower and increasing more slowly over time than other age groups in the United States, and the intent to be vaccinated is lower among younger adults, according to studies published Monday by the CDC.
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CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Kaitlan Collins and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.