With the U.S. falling short of President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of its adults vaccinated by July 4, there’s a new arrow in the quiver that the federal government could utilize: Going door to door to try to bring vaccination numbers up. But some worry that a door to door vaccination check will infringe on their right to be left alone.
According to the Washington Post, Biden announced on July 6 that the U.S. would launch “a presidential campaign-style drive enlisting local pharmacies, community leaders, family doctors, and other trusted figures to extol the vaccine while volunteers go door-to-door to make the case the way they might for a ballot initiative.”
“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,” Biden said.
NPR‘s Tamara Keith, in her reporting on the new initiative, noted that the Biden Administration is wary of actually mandating vaccines for now.
“Press Secretary Jen Psaki has also made it clear they don’t intend to be in the vaccine verification business either,” Keith said in an interview that host Ari Shapiro conducted. “They aren’t even talking about checking to see whether travelers from other countries are vaccinated. At this point, they are leaving it to schools and businesses to put mandates in place if they choose. And they are offering to support those entities, if they want, to make it easier for people to gain access to vaccines right there.”
That story also indicated that there’s no centralized federal list of individuals who have or have not been vaccinated; rather, officials would use Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data to determine which communities to target.
As Wisconsin Public Radio noted, Milwaukee has already launched such a door-to-door vaccination check effort, looking to improve upon Milwaukee County’s numbers. There, 48.7% have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose, but in the 53206 zip code, which includes a greater concentration of Black residents, only 28% of people have received a dose.
After about a week of efforts there, an additional 137 people have been vaccinated.
“We do not want any part of this community to be devastated by the delta variant and we do not know what is going to happen this fall,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “If people will trust the science, if people will trust the healthcare, if people will trust the vaccine, we will be able to declare victory.”
But the plan is being met with skepticism in some circles. As Fox News reported, some Republican public officials took to social media to slam the plan, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who tweeted, “How about don’t knock on my door. You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?”
As the Washington Post story noted, however, it’s Republican-led resistance (not to mention the 12 social media influencers who have been termed the Disinformation Dozen) that’s caused Biden to amp up his efforts to encourage vaccination.
“Biden’s tone was, if anything, more urgent than previously, as the country faces potential infection spikes in the fall,” the publication observed. “Standing in front of a backdrop that declared ‘We can do this,’ Biden sounded alternately like a salesman (‘it’s never been easier’), a supplicant (‘please, please get vaccinated’) and an Army recruiter (‘it’s a patriotic thing to do’).”
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