Biden launches vaccine blitz in bid to ‘declare independence’ from COVID-19

Biden launches vaccine blitz in bid to ‘declare independence’ from COVID-19

June 2, 2021

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Washington: US President Joe Biden has announced an all-out push to vaccinate more Americans against COVID-19, including offering free child care for those getting the jab and enlisting social media influencers to sell the benefits of vaccination.

Biden has designated June a “national month of action” on vaccines as he tries to meet his goal for 70 per cent of American adults to have received at least one vaccine dose by the Independence Day holiday on July 4.

Sixty-three per cent of American adults have currently received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

US President Joe Biden urged Americans aged under 40 to “step up” and get vaccinated. Credit:AP

While hailing America’s “incredible progress” at bringing the virus under control, Biden said that un-vaccinated Americans still remain at risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.

“We need everyone across the country to pull together, to get us over the finish line,” Biden said in an appearance at the White House.

“I promise you we can do this.”

Reaching the 70 per cent target would allow America to “declare independence from COVID-19 and free ourselves from the grip it has held over us our lives for the better part of a year,” Biden said.

The President especially urged Americans aged under 40 to “step up” and get their jab for the good of the nation.

The White House announced that four of the nation’s largest child care providers will offer free drop-in child care to all parents and caregivers who are getting vaccinated or recovering from vaccination until July 4th.

Major pharmacy chains will also open for 24 hours on Fridays so that shift workers can get the vaccine.

The Biden administration wants to turn black-owned barber shops and beauty salons into vaccination outreach centres. Credit:Gary Porter

“This is the kind of on-the-ground work that’s going to get the job done,” Biden said while noting: “All over the world people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighbourhood drugstore.”

The White House also announced it will be launching an initiative, known as “Shots at the Shop”, to recruit 1000 Black-owned barber-shops and beauty salons to act as vaccination outreach centres in communities of colour.

The Biden administration said it will also be “working with social media platforms and engaging celebrities and influencers to reach people where they are” in an effort to convince them to get vaccinated.

Vice-President Kamala Harris will lead a national tour to promote vaccinations, focussing on southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi where vaccination rates lag behind those in other parts of the country.

US Vice-President Kamala Harris has been tapped to visit southern states where many black Americans have been reluctant to get the vaccination. Credit:Bloomberg

The White House is also spruiking a range of private sector initiatives, including lotteries for free Xboxes, groceries, flights and cruises for vaccinated Americans.

Noting that the vaccines were developed under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, Biden stressed that getting vaccinated is not a partisan act.

“We need to be one America, united, free from fear,” he said.

Polls have consistently shown that white evangelical Republicans are among the Americans most resistant to receiving a COVID-19 vaccinate.

Biden said that fully-vaccinated Americans would be able to enjoy a “summer dramatically different from last year’s summer”.

“A summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations,” he said. “An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.”

Daily new COVID-19 cases in the US have plummeted to around 17,000, down from a peak of 250,000 at the start of the year. The daily death rate has plunged to around 350 a day, down from over 3000 a day at the start of the year.

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