The Biden administration is in desperate need of COVID-19 vaccines. To reach this goal, it has sent A-list officials to the country. They have created ads for niche markets, and are recruiting community organizers to convince unvaccinated people to get their shot.
This strategy has all the trappings of an election campaign. It includes data crunching to determine which groups can be won over.
The message is not about ideology, but public health. The “movable middle”, which is roughly 55 million unvaccinated adults, is the focus of this message. Many of these people are under 30.
“We are not going to just do the mass vaccination sites,” stated Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. It’s door-to-door. It’s mobile clinics. We are doing vaccinations at the church, the PTA meeting and the barber shop.
Officials have taken advantage of a new topic, the coronavirus. This is where the delta variant of the deadly virus that has decimated India is now spreading. The more transmissible variant has gained acceptance in Mountain West and the heartland states, accounting for approximately 1 in 5 viruses genetically decoded in America. Many infected people are young and unvaccinated.
The White House has provided top names for the vaccine push.
President Joe Biden visited the mobile vaccination site in Raleigh (North Carolina) on Thursday. Jill Biden, the first lady, held the hand of a woman in Kissimmee at a drive-thru vaccine site.
Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris has amassed thousands of frequent flyer points, and has visited at least 18 to 19 states according to his count.
It has also recruited athletes and celebrities, including Brad Paisley from country music and the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club. It has teamed with Twitch, Riot Games and Panera to reach online gamers. Panera and Chipotle will also offer free food for those who get a shot.
According to Surgeon General Vivek Muthy, the message is clear: “If your vaccines are up-to-date, you are protected.” Variants are a real threat and it is growing if you’re not vaccinated.
It is unclear how effective the levers for persuasion work. The vaccination rates have fallen below 1 million per day and there is no indication of a turnaround. The administration acknowledged that it will not reach its goal of 70% vaccinations by July Fourth.
About 170 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccines to this point. This is roughly two-thirds for those aged 18 and over. According to an analysis by the Associated Press, Biden’s self imposed goal might not be met at current vaccination rates until late July.
HHS analysts have created a rough sketch for those in the movable center. They are generally between 18 and 29 years old. They are not educated at college and most of them are political independents. Adults of Latino and Black descent are more likely than those from other backgrounds to be included in this category.
It can be difficult to sell. Sherie Bardwell, a Gulf Coast resident, was not impressed by Jill Biden’s visit to Mississippi earlier this week. She felt that Biden’s statement about “vaccines may feel like miracles, but there’s not faith required” was a dig at Christians.
“She said shots were miracles that don’t require faith. Bardwell said that the Bible tells us to live by faith. He was following news reports about the first lady’s visit. Bardwell stated that both her and her husband had COVID-19, and that she was admitted to the hospital.
Bardwell said, “My thoughts are that if you have already had the coronavirus then why would you need the vaccine?” “If the vaccine is the miracle, then why are you still at high risk of contracting this virus even after getting the shot?” It doesn’t make any sense.” Doctors recommend that patients who have been treated for the flu be vaccinated to ensure their continued protection.
Some White House officials privately worry that the persuadable universe is shrinking.
Despite early success, vaccination has become paradoxically more difficult. Officials say that now that the number of cases and deaths has fallen to levels not seen since the outbreak of the pandemic it is harder to convince Americans to get vaccinated, especially younger people who know they are at low risk for serious complications.
Biden officials admit that they are aware of the fact that closing the deal will require more than celebrity pitches. Knoxville, Tennessee: A retired home-care administrator and hospice manager has been made a volunteer COVID-19 response coordinator in the Black community. Cynthia Finch is just one of the many national federal health officials who have been “trusted messengers” for their constituents.
Finch called her local vaccine strategy “3 V’s”. She began with “vaccine partners” (local hospitals, universities, and other institutions) to establish a framework. Finch then organized volunteers to help with shots, working with professional groups such as a Black nursing society. She reached out to churches and community groups to offer places where people could get their vaccines. Finch estimates that these efforts have resulted in thousands of people being fully vaccinated.
She stated that she is comfortable with dealing with skepticism due to the history of substandard treatment in minority communities and the use Black patients in medical research without their consent. She listens carefully to concerns and objections, and then responds with accurate information.
She said, “When you start telling them stories they can relate to it kind of calms down.”
Her motivation is personal. Finch shared the story of a friend who lost two brothers to COVID-19 just days apart. This motivates her to continue working. She said, “People are still killing.”
Although we applaud the efforts of the Biden administration to get Americans vaccinated in a positive way, experts in public health say that there are limitations to how persuasive persuasion can be achieved.
The administration has stopped issuing vaccine passports as a way to get benefits like international travel. However, Dr. Leana Wein, an ex-Baltimore health commissioner, stated that a federal verification system people could use to verify their vaccination status could still offer an incentive.
She stated, “Setting an aspirational goal at 70% was the right goal by the Biden administration. But I wish they hadn’t been so hesitant about vaccine requirements.”
Wen stated, “We will be in a situation where the majority of country is going to get vaccinated.” “Why should they be held captive by a small minority of the population who could endanger everybody else?”
Officials in the administration are not showing any signs of compromising their position. Murthy stated that the federal government does not plan to establish a database of vaccine-vaccinated people.