(WASHINGTON) — President President Joe Biden is doubling down on efforts to get more Americans vaccinated despite missing his self-imposed Fourth of July deadline of having 70% of American adults vaccinated with at least one dose and 160 million people fully vaccinated.
The president was briefed on the state of the coronavirus by his COVID-19 response team Tuesday afternoon and continued to urge Americans to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated — particularly as the delta variant continues to spread across the country.
“Our fight against this virus is not over. Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk, the people that they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the delta variant,” Biden said in remarks Tuesday afternoon.
The president said one topic of discussion during his briefing was the alarming rate of spread for the variant he described as “more easily transmissible” and “potentially more dangerous.”
“It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice. And it should cause reconsideration, especially to young people who may have thought that they didn’t have to be vaccinated, didn’t have to worry about it and didn’t have to do anything about it up to now.”
The president stressed the efficacy of the vaccine against the delta variant, and said the administration’s efforts to get more shots into arms was far from over — pledging to “devote the remainder of the summer to a special focus on five ways to make gains” in the vaccination rate, in part by turning to a hyperlocal focus in place of mass vaccination sites.
“We need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and, oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said.
“We’re gonna put even more emphasis on getting vaccinated in your community, close to home, conveniently, at a location you’re already familiar with,” Biden said, “First thing we’re gonna do, this includes 42,000 local pharmacies where folks with questions can talk to the pharmacists they know and already have … dealt with.”
The White House will also focus on getting the vaccines to more family doctors and health care providers, according to Biden, to allow those hesitant to get the vaccine “from the folks that they know and they trust the most.”
The administration will also increase the number of vaccines available to pediatric doctors in an effort to ramp up rates among children 12 to 18 as they prepare for the upcoming school year.
Biden reiterated the administration’s call to employers to reduce barriers for their employees to get their shots and said the administration would expand their mobile clinic outreach in an additional effort to meet Americans where they already are.
“At special events, summer festivals, sporting events, as well as places of worship, wherever we can find people gathered,” he said
The White House faces an uphill battle on that front. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll found that among unvaccinated Americans, 74% said that they are unlikely to get the vaccine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed Tuesday afternoon about the polling and if unvaccinated Americans were still persuadable. Psaki said that the community approach was already having an impact.
“So, we’ve seen, actually, even people who didn’t — had no intention of getting the vaccine for a range of reasons, maybe they didn’t know how to get it, maybe they don’t know where to get it, maybe they were scared of the impacts, actually get vaccinated. And that, to us, is an encouraging sign that we can continue to press and make progress moving forward,” she said.
While neither of Biden’s July Fourth goals have been met, the president did tout the strides the U.S. has made under his administration, teasing that his goal of having 160 million Americans fully vaccinated should be met at the end of this week — only a few days off from his self-imposed deadline.
“We can’t get complacent now. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family and the people you care about the most is get vaccinated. The best thing the community can do to protect themselves is to increase vaccination rates. You can do this. You can do this. Let’s finish the job, finish it together,” he said.
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