Health

Biden Pushes Month-Long Effort to Meet 70% Vaccination Goal

WASHINGTON — The nation has come a long way toward beating COVID-19, but more progress still needs to be made, President Biden said Wednesday.

“In just four months, thanks to the American people, we’ve made incredible progress in getting people vaccinated quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” he said during a speech in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building here. “Nearly 170 million Americans have … stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and gotten the shot. Fifty-two percent of adults are now fully vaccinated, including 75% of all seniors.”

The proof of progress is found in the declining numbers of cases and deaths, he continued. Over a 15-month period starting in January 2020, “the average daily cases are down from 184,000 to 19,000,” said Biden. “For the first time since March of 2020, average hospitalizations are down, from 117,000 to 21,000; death rates are down over 85%.”

These results “didn’t just happen by chance,” he added. “We got to this moment because we took aggressive action from Day One with a ‘whole of government’ response. We used every lever at our disposal to get this done.”

The president had a special message for those who haven’t yet been vaccinated. “If you’re thinking that the side effects of the shot are worse than COVID, or that you can’t just take a chance, you’re just dead wrong,” he said. “Do it for yourself. Do it to protect those more vulnerable than you — your friends, your family, your community.”

Biden said he is close to reaching his goal of getting 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4th.

“Nationally, we’re at 63% of adults with one shot — we’re getting closer” but there’s still work to do, he said. “That’s why today we’re announcing a month-long effort to pull all the stops to free ourselves from this virus and get to 70% of adult Americans vaccinated.” He outlined specific steps that the administration is taking:

Making vaccination more convenient. “Starting next week, many vaccination sites will be offering extended hours during the month of June, including pharmacies that will be open 24 hours every Friday night,” he said. “If you’re too busy at work, school, you can get vaccinated around the clock on any Friday.”

In addition, several national daycare chains and hundreds of local YMCAs are offering free drop-in childcare for anyone needing to get a vaccine. Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft will continue to offer free rides to and from vaccination sites.

Re-launching public education efforts. “We’re going to launch a National Vaccination Tour to encourage people to take the shot,” Biden explained. “The vice president will lead that tour across the South and the Midwest, where we still have millions of people to vaccinate. She can be joined by the First Lady and the Second Gentleman and Cabinet secretaries along the way.”

The White House is also starting “Shots at the Shop” in conjunction with the Black Coalition Against Covid-19. “Barber shops and beauty shops are hubs of activity and information in Black and Brown communities particularly, but in many communities across the nation,” he noted. “Local barbers and stylists will become key advocates for vaccinations in their communities, offering information to customers, booking appointments for them, and even using their own businesses as vaccination sites.”

The administration also is holding a national canvassing weekend for thousands of volunteers “who will be out knocking on doors and encouraging their communities to get vaccinated,” he said.

Increasing efforts with employers. “A lot of working people are holding back because they’re concerned about losing pay if they take time off to get a shot, or if they don’t feel well the next day,” the president said. “For small and medium-sized employers, if you give people paid time off to get a shot, you’ll get a tax credit to cover that cost.”

Incentivizing people with fun rewards. “Kroger [grocery store chain] announced that they’re going to give away $1 million each week to someone who gets vaccinated at one of their pharmacies … Major League Baseball will offer free tickets to people who get vaccinated at the ballpark. And to top it off, Anheuser Busch announced that beer is on them on July 4th. That’s right — get a shot and have a beer,” Biden said.

Encouraging vaccinated Americans to help others get vaccinated. “We need you to get your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers vaccinated,” he said. “Help them find an appointment, drive into the site. Talk to them about why you made the choice for yourself.” Biden touted a new website at the Department of HHS that tells people what actions they can take to help.

“We know for a fact that Americans can do anything when we do it together,” Biden said. “So please give it your all through July the fourth. Let’s reach our 70% goal. Let’s go into the summer freer and safer.”

  • Joyce Frieden oversees MedPage Today’s Washington coverage, including stories about Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, healthcare trade associations, and federal agencies. She has 35 years of experience covering health policy. Follow

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