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Politics|To try to spur shots, Biden again outlines strategies to reach those who remain unvaccinated.
WASHINGTON — With the pace of U.S. coronavirus vaccinations relatively flat, President Biden called on Tuesday for employers to set up clinics at work and to offer paid time off for workers as part of a renewed push to reach tens of millions of Americans who remain unvaccinated.
“Please get vaccinated now — it works, it’s free, it’s never been easier,” Mr. Biden said in brief remarks. “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.”
Just two days after he hosted a big White House Fourth of July celebration and declared “America is coming back together,” Mr. Biden is turning his attention to a public health conundrum: Despite his administration’s aggressive push, he has not met his self-imposed goal of having 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated by now, and officials have already tried many techniques.
In his remarks, Mr. Biden noted a different metric: By the end of the week, nearly 160 million Americans, not quite half the population, will be fully vaccinated. The worrisome Delta variant spreading quickly around the country remains a concern in areas with lower vaccination rates. Although there is not yet good data on how all of the vaccines hold up against Delta, several widely used shots, including those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, are still effective against the Delta variant after two doses, research suggests.
But providers were administering about 0.87 million doses per day on average, as of Tuesday, about a 74 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported on April 13.
And beyond the issues with the vaccination campaign, declines in the virus itself appear to have stalled nationally. After a sharp drop in virus cases, the average number of new daily cases across the country seems to have leveled off and remain close to the lowest point since testing became widely available. Mr. Biden underscored that overall progress in his remarks on Tuesday, but pockets of outbreaks remain. In some parts of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, for instance, there has been a sharp rise in cases.
Mr. Biden used his remarks to outline five areas of concentration for his administration, all avenues it has already pursued: targeted, community by community, door to door outreach to get the remaining Americans vaccinated; a fresh push to get vaccines to primary care doctors; a boost in efforts to get vaccines to pediatricians and other providers who serve younger people so that adolescents ages 12 to 18 can get their shots; expanded mobile clinic efforts and the workplace changes.
“The bottom line is, my administration is doing everything we can to lead a whole-of-government response at the federal, state and local levels to defeat the pandemic,” he said. “We need everyone to do their part.”
It is unclear what else the administration can do. Public health officials know that the last stretch of any vaccination campaign is the most arduous — a point Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s top medical adviser for the pandemic, made in a recent interview.
“The last mile is always the hardest,” Dr. Fauci said, adding, “We’re actually on the last quarter mile.”