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President Joe Biden renewed the push to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday, calling for people to protect themselves and their neighbors.
With the contagious delta variant now accounting for half of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., he said, people should “think twice” about not getting a shot.
“Our fight against this virus is not over,” he said during a press briefing.
“Right now, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected,” he added. “Because of that, their communities are at risk.”
More than 182 million Americans — or 55% of the population — have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the latest CDC data updated on Tuesday. About 158 million, or 48%, are considered fully vaccinated.
The U.S. is administering about 1 million doses per day, according to The New York Times, down from the peak of 3.38 million doses per day in mid-April.
COVID-19 cases are down by 90% since the peak in January, Biden said, though pockets of outbreaks remain. In some states, such as Arkansas and Missouri, cases have increased among unvaccinated people because of the delta variant.
Biden said his administration would “devote the remainder of the summer” to five tactics to increase vaccination rates. Mass vaccination sites will continue to close, and the focus will turn to community, neighborhood and door-to-door programs to reach people at a local level.
First, 42,000 local pharmacies will stock vaccines and have pharmacists available to answer questions. The key is for people to be able to walk in without an appointment and get vaccinated when picking up prescriptions or drugstore purchases, he said.
Second, the Biden administration will place a renewed emphasis on family doctors and local health care providers so people can receive a vaccine from someone they know and trust.
Third, vaccines will go to pediatricians and family doctors who serve ages 12-18 so adolescents and teens can receive a shot during back-to-school check-ups or physicals for fall sports.
Fourth, public health efforts will meet people where they are at work, encouraging employers to either make vaccines available in workplaces or provide paid time off for employees to get a vaccine at a nearby location.
Fifth, more mobile clinic units will be deployed to vaccinate people at summer events, such as festivals, gatherings and places of worship.
Beyond that, Biden said, COVID-19 surge response teams with CDC and FEMA experts will be deployed to communities when outbreaks occur, particularly in places with low vaccination rates that are seeing a surge in cases. They’ll increase testing, provide medications to treat COVID-19 and investigate the outbreaks.
Biden praised the progress that has been made so far, encouraging Americans to consider where they were at this time last year compared to right now. At the same time, he urged people to stay focused on vaccination goals, particularly in at-risk communities.
“We have to keep it up until we’re finished,” he said. “We can’t get complacent now.”
C-SPAN: “President Biden Remarks on COVID-19.”
CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Untied States.”
The New York Times: “To try to spur shots, Biden again outlines strategies to reach those who remain unvaccinated.”
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