Joe Biden has announced a national “month of action” to try to get at least 70% of Americans vaccinated against coronavirus before the Fourth of July holiday.
Touting the progress already made, and dangling the promise of a “summer of freedom” from Covid-19 to those reluctant to get a shot, the US president urged citizens, especially those under 40, to play a role in the “wartime effort” to defeat the virus.
In a 15-minute address from the White House, he laid out a five-point plan to achieve his 4 July target, and tasked Vice-President Kamala Harris and other senior administration figures with a nationwide tour in the coming weeks to spread vaccination information.
Incentives for getting a shot, he said, include tax credits for employers and paid time off to get vaccines, free childcare for parents and caregivers to do so, and free beer and complimentary rides to and from vaccination appointments.
“It’s going to take everyone, the federal government to state governments, local, tribal and territorial governments, and private sector, and most importantly the American people, to get to the 70% mark,” he said.
“America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year, a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebrations, an all-American summer that this country deserves. You might even be invited to visit us at the White House in July to celebrate Independence together,” he added.
Biden heralded the progress already made. “Fifty-two percent of adults are now fully vaccinated, including 75% of all seniors,” he said.
“Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have achieved 50% of adults fully vaccinated. Since 20 January, [compared to] 15 months ago, the average daily cases are down from 184,000 to 19,000. Average hospitalizations are down from 117,000 to 21,000, death rates are down over 85%.
“[But] we still have work to do, We especially need people under 40 to step up.”
Biden said the government was partnering with state and local governments and businesses to increase vaccination take-up rates.
Measures, he said, will include a “shots at the shop” initiative, working with hair salons and beauty parlors among others to provide vaccinations during extended opening hours in an effort to encourage racial minorities. “Barbershops, beauty shops, are hubs of activity and information in Black and brown communities particularly, but in many communities across the nation,” he said.
Biden also noted that Americans are lucky to have such easy access to the vaccines, saying: “All over the world, people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighborhood drugstore.”
Major pharmacies will be open 24 hours on Fridays until 4 July; four of the largest US childcare providers will offer free childcare for caregivers who are getting the vaccine or recovering after their shot; and Uber and Lyft will provide free rides to appointments.
“We need everyone across the country to pull together to get us over the finish line,” Biden said.
“I promise you we can do this. Just look at what we’ve already done. Let’s reach our 70% goal, let’s go into the summer freer and safer, let’s celebrate a truly historic Independence Day.”
Source: The Guardian
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