The Biden administration plans to employ the same tactic used by Turkey to get people vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19). President Joe Biden on Tuesday, July 6, said that the federal government’s vaccination efforts will shift from mass vaccination sites to “literally knocking on doors” in some instances.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been labeled a dictator by foreign leaders and other prominent names in the international community so Biden is essentially copying the strategy of a country that is being led by a tyrant.
“We are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites that did so much in the spring to rapidly vaccinate those eager to get their first shot and their second shot for that matter, if they needed a second,” Biden said. “Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oft times door to door – literally knocking on doors – to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”
Turkey has been using the door-to-door initiative to target people reluctant to get vaccinated for months now.
Since February, Turkish doctors and healthcare workers have been calling people in age groups already eligible for the vaccine to ask why they have not come to clinics for appointments. Equipped with cooler boxes full of vaccine vials, they fan out across the rural area to visit patients who are still reluctant.
The theory is that a face-to-face conversation will help change people’s minds.
After proving to be a resounding success in local communities, the door-to-door initiative has become a national program. The mobile door-to-door units have been operational in several Turkish provinces since April. At local health offices, more government workers reach people by phone in an attempt to change their minds.
Biden’s door-to-door remark comes after falling short of goal
Biden’s remark came after he fell short of his goal of vaccinating 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by July 4. The figure currently stands at just over 67 percent. (Related: CGI-Biden announces that American families are NOT PERMITTED to gather together in their own yard, not now or for July 4th, unless everyone is Covid vaccinated.)
The Biden administration hopes to address concerns causing vaccine hesitancy with its more targeted approach to communities. But it’s unclear how the door-to-door strategy will be received – especially among the 10 percent of unvaccinated adults who cited conspiracy theories or misinformation about the vaccines, skepticism of drug companies or general antigovernment or antivaccine sentiment in a Morning Consult poll that asked why they won’t get the shot.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 55 percent of the entire U.S. population is at least partially vaccinated against the coronavirus.
But Biden urged more people to get the shot as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads. The variant makes up about 25 percent of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. and is expected to become the dominant strain in the coming weeks.
“Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected,” Biden said. “And because of that their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk, the people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the delta variant.”
He said the variant should “cause everybody to think twice” but specifically the “young people who may have thought that they didn’t have to be vaccinated.” Future federal efforts to get people vaccinated during the summer will put a focus on communities, including making the shots available at local pharmacies, family doctors’ offices and worksites when possible.
Texas Republicans vow to fight Biden’s door-to-door plan
Some Texas Republicans vow to fight Biden’s plan to go door-to-door to vaccinate more Americans.
“Not on my watch!” Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted in response to the president’s comments on Tuesday.
Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from San Antonio, tweeted that he found the door-to-door push unconstitutional because such an approach “was really considered in the Constitution only for the census.”
The pushback came when Biden gave a speech Tuesday calling on more Americans to get vaccinated. “Do it now for yourself and the people you care about, for your neighborhood, for your country,” said Biden. “It sounds cheesy, but it’s a patriotic thing.” (Related: Biden forces working taxpayers to foot bill for those injured, killed by Covid-19 vaccines.)
Health experts have said that because of its size, Texas is a big contributor to the country’s slower progress in vaccination, even though providers in the state have given nearly 26 million doses. With just over 50 percent of Texans eligible for vaccination fully vaccinated, Texas lags behind other populous states like Florida, New York and California.
But Texas is not alone. The nationwide vaccination campaign has slowed significantly in recent weeks. On Tuesday, July 7, providers were delivering an average of about 0.87 million doses per day – a 74 percent decrease from the high of 3.38 million doses reported April 13, according to the New York Times.
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