WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for urgency to get more Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus as a new variant is causing case surges in parts of the country.
Despite missing his Fourth of July goal of having 70% of Americans vaccinated with at least one dose and 160 million people fully vaccinated, Biden said Tuesday his COVID-19 team has informed him he will reach that number just a few days after the holiday.
“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 at the White House.
Biden said that his administration is shifting its focus to a smaller, more community-based approach to try to reach those still not wanting to get the shot.
“We can’t get complacent now,” Biden said. “You can do this. Let’s finish the job.”
The President said he will now focus on getting vaccine supplies to local pharmacies, primary care doctors and pediatricians, along with door-to-door vaccinations, mobile clinics and workplace vaccination events.
“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 added, “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 delta variant, which is more transmissible and has been linked to more severe illness in younger adults, has caused a surge in cases in areas with low vaccination rates.
“It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice,” Biden said. “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.”
Missouri has just 39% of the population is fully vaccinated and has seen cases spike in the past week, compared to a month ago, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked at Tuesday’s briefing if unvaccinated Americans were still persuadable. She responded there is data showing that community reach is working.
“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.