On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki discussed the Biden administration's plans to get more Americans vaccinated with the COVID-19 experimental vaccine, pointing out that "fully vaccinated people are protected against the Delta variant." Psaki, who commented that close to 160 million Americans will be fully vaccinated by the end of the week, outlined five focus areas of the president and his team. She explained number one:
"Targeted, community-by-community, door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is."
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the government "absolutely" has a right to know the vaccination status of U.S. citizens. Appearing on CNN, Becerra, when pressed whether Biden would push to require proof of vaccination, replied, "We want to give people the sense that they have the freedom to choose, but we hope that they choose to live." Elaborating on why someone's vaccination status is the government's business, Becerra stated:
"The federal government has spent trillions of dollars to try and keep Americans alive during this pandemic. So it is absolutely the government's business, it is taxpayers' business if we have to continue to spend money to try and keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy."
Becerra's comments come after Biden's missed goal of having 70 percent of adult Americans vaccinated by July 4. Becerra added that COVID-19 shots are the key to ensuring all Americans can "prosper and freely associate" following the pandemic, suggesting that states and local governments should require proof of vaccinations. He went on to say:
"Knocking on a door has never been against the law, and you don't have to answer. But we hope you do because if you do, we can hopefully help dispel some of those rumors that you've heard and hopefully get you vaccinated."
According to Psaki, who noted that more than 2 million people a week are getting their first shot, the administration is "doubling down" on its efforts to vaccinate millions of people over the summer. She emphasized that individuals 27 years of age or younger are getting vaccinated at a lower rate than older Americans. Explaining the administration feels access to the vaccines is a challenge, Psaki defined the four other areas of focus to increase vaccination rates are:
- A renewed emphasis on getting the vaccines to more primary care doctors and physicians.
- Stepped-up efforts to get vaccines to pediatricians and other providers who serve younger people so that adolescents age 12 to 18 can get vaccinated as they go for back-to-school checkups or get ready for fall sports.
- Continue expansion of efforts to make the vaccine accessible for workers, which includes setting up vaccination clinics at workplaces and PTO or time—leave that employees can take off to get vaccinated.
- The expansion of mobile clinic efforts, meeting people where they are, and making sure the vaccine is taken to communities.
On the Fourth of July, President Biden, speaking to an invited crowd of military members and essential workers, said, "This year, the Fourth of July is a day of special celebration for we are emerging from the darkness of ... a year of pandemic and isolation, a year of pain, fear and heartbreaking loss.” In a plea to encourage more people to get vaccinated, Biden noted that "we never again want to be where we were a year ago today." He went on to state that getting vaccinated is "the most patriotic thing you can do."
The door-to-door vaccine campaign by the Biden administration was met with criticism from Republicans. Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson, noting the hypocrisy of the Biden administration, tweeted, "Wait a minute. So the Trump administration can't even ask who is a US citizen—while doing the census—but the Biden administration can go door to door to know who isn't vaccinated? This might just be about power to some people…" While those in favor of going door-to-door assert that if an individual offers their vaccine history voluntarily, it does not violate HIPPA, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky disagrees, adding:
“Constitutionality notwithstanding, unless this specific activity was authorized by Congress, it’s illegal. If the president truly believes the most transmissible variants are now circulating, why is he sending possible vectors of the disease to people's houses?"
On Tuesday, Biden pointed out that health experts report that vaccines appear to be effective against the "delta variant," which, according to the CDC, is the most dominant version of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. While offering neither a definition of what a "targeted, community-by-community, door-to-door" vaccination campaign looks like, nor what information will be used to define these "targeted areas." Biden, reiterating the dutiful outlook his administration holds on getting vaccinated, stressed:
“It’s never been easier, and it’s never been more important. Do it now for yourself and the people you care about, for your neighborhood, for your country. It sounds corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do.”