President Biden on Tuesday will outline steps to persuade Americans to get vaccinated as fast-moving variants threaten his COVID-19 fight, launching “door to door” efforts in neighborhoods and making sure the shots are available in doctors’ offices.
The initiative will spotlight vaccines in pediatricians’ offices so patients ages 12 to 18 can get immunized ahead of the school year and fall sports, according to a White House official.
Mr. Biden also will detail efforts to get the shots into workplaces, so vaccination is more convenient.
COVID-19 vaccines are plentiful in the U.S., but only 47% of the population is fully vaccinated. Experts say 70%-90% of the population should be immunized to wrangle the virus, particularly as it evolves into more dangerous forms.
The White House is scrambling to bolster vaccination rates after eager Americans came forward.
The most resistant are dug in, citing potential side effects or distrust of government, while those younger than 25 have been lax about coming forward because they don’t fear the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health recently said 99% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are among unvaccinated persons.
Officials are worried that a dual picture will emerge in which parts of the nation suffer from low vaccination rates and outbreaks, while other parts resume normal life. They’re also worried the virus will respond to a partially vaccinated society by mutating into a form that can penetrate the vaccines’ protection.
Mr. Biden is navigating a duality of his own, celebrating his administration’s progress in the fight against the pandemic while warning of pitfalls moving forward.
Recent outbreaks in Missouri and Texas underscored the risks of spread within poorly vaccinated populations, and various strains of the virus continue to ping around the globe.
The president used a July 4 cookout at the White House to celebrate how far the U.S. has come but said the job isn’t done, as some local officials debate whether to bring back mask rules to combat the dreaded “delta” variant of the virus.
“Don’t get me wrong. COVID-19 has not been vanquished,” Mr. Biden said. “We all know powerful variants have emerged, like the delta variant. But the best defense against these variants is to get vaccinated.”
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