US hits vaccine milestone as 70% of US adults now have at least 1 dose

The United States hit a notable milestone on Monday in its urgent vaccination effort against COVID-19: 70% of U.S. adults have now received at least one dose of a vaccine. 

The U.S. has ramped up vaccination rates in recent weeks amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, reaching the highest seven-day average of newly vaccinated people since July 4. 

The marker of 70% of individuals 18 and older who have received at least one vaccine dose comes nearly a month after President Joe Biden had hoped to meet that threshold. Regardless, officials welcomed the achievement as the delta variant fuels COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country once again — largely among the unvaccinated. 

"Milestone Monday just in: Today we hit 70% of adults w/ at least one dose! +468K doses reported administered, incl. 320K newly vaccinated (vs. 257K last Monday). 7-day average of newly vaccinated highest since July 4. Let's continue working to get more eligible vaccinated," Cyrus Shahpar, the White House's COVID-19 data director, wrote on Twitter.

9ea0d951-Vaccine Clinic Opens In Southern California As New Covid Cases Surge

FILE - A nurse administers a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a person at a three-day vaccination clinic at Providence Wilmington Wellness and Activity Center on July 29, 2021, in Wilmington, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Among the total U.S. population, 49.7% are fully vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure rises to 58.1% when including those who are eligible for the shot, which is currently ages 12 and up. 

As CDC officials have noted, vaccination rates by state vary drastically — with several states having over 50% of their total population to have received at least one dose, while Mississippi stands at just 39.8%.

Florida on Sunday reported most new daily cases and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19, as hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.

The latest COVID-19 surge prompted CDC officials to recommend that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infections. The agency cited new data on the delta variant showing that vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.

Still, the CDC notes that COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective against the delta variant at preventing serious illness and death.

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.