Biden Admin Searches For Creative Ways To Finish Vaccination Campaign, Including Shots At Sports Games

President Joe Biden (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
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May 4, 2021 5:39 p.m.

Vaccine sites at sports stadiums. Free beer with a vaccine. 10 percent off, if you get vaccinated.

All these are on the table as the federal government searches for ways to vaccinate the rest of the country’s adult population, as the pace of vaccinations decreases.

President Joe Biden announced in a speech on Tuesday that the administration is shifting its vaccination campaign strategy to focus on getting the shots to younger people, convincing the vaccine-hesitant, and making it easier to get for those in hard-to-reach areas and communities.

“Soon, we’ll have reached the adults most eager to get vaccinated, and this effort will shift to a new phase,” Biden said.

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The push to vaccinate the country has shifted from earlier challenges, Biden said, which included developing the vaccine and distributing it on a mass scale.

As the pace of vaccinations has waned, the challenge now is to persuade the reluctant or otherwise non-eager adults to get the shot.

“It’s up to convincing the American people rather than making sure we have the supply,” Biden said.

Recent polling has shown that conservative men are among the least likely Americans to get the shot. After a study suggesting that was released, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement noting that he himself was a vaccinated Republican man.

“I can say as a Republican man, as soon as it was my turn, I took the vaccine. I would encourage all Republican men to do that,” McConnell said in March.

Biden on Tuesday went out of his way to note that two of the shots — the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines — had been authorized for use “under a Republican administration.”

“I want to thank prominent conservatives like Mitch McConnell, and a large group of Republicans with medical training who have advocated getting vaccinated,” Biden said at one point during the remarks.

He also suggested that the administration would “bring in a spokesperson to represent communities that, in fact, people listen to.” In the fall, when the Trump administration was lobbying against funding for the states to distribute the vaccine, public health experts were calling for a comprehensive communications strategy to market the vaccine to different groups in American society.

The Trump administration did plan to have one vaccine PR campaign coincide with the election, though a number of celebrities either declined to participate or were cut from the production for being politically undesirable to Trumpworld.

That nonsense left the country without an effective communications campaign for the vaccine when it began to be distributed in December 2020: a challenge the Biden team now needs to surmount as it seeks to vaccinate both the reluctant and hard-to-reach communities.

Public health experts say that finding spokespeople who can identify, communicate with, and are credible to specific communities is key to vaccination efforts.

“I think most people will be convinced that their failure to get the vaccine will cause other people to get sick and die,” Biden added.

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