As the Pace of Vaccinations Slows, Biden Makes a Personal Appeal

The Biden administration is shifting its strategy from mass vaccination sites to a more localized effort, deploying top officials to canvass and knock on doors.


By Zolan Kanno-Youngs

WASHINGTON — President Biden implored Americans on Thursday to “knock on doors and talk to friends and neighbors” about getting vaccinated, as the White House opened a campaign-like blitz to persuade people around the country to get their shots.

Mr. Biden’s speech, in North Carolina, came as the government is shifting its strategy from mass vaccination sites to a more localized effort — deploying top officials to local communities, with an eye toward younger Americans who are reluctant to get vaccinated.

“This can be among the most important things you do,” Mr. Biden said, before reminding the crowd of dozens of canvassers and attendees at Green Road Community Center in Raleigh that more than 600,000 Americans have died from Covid-19.

The White House has sent other big names out on the road recently, as well. The first lady, Jill Biden, visited vaccination sites in Florida on Thursday and planned to travel to at least five states between this week and July 4. (It is a traveling schedule that, at this point, is busier than her husband’s.)

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci knocked on doors last weekend in a predominately African American neighborhood in Washington, and Douglas Emhoff, Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, visited a barbershop in Chicago this week to learn why residents were turning away shots.

The message has been clear: Vaccines are available and beneficial, with mobile vaccination units in many neighborhoods and extended hours at pharmacies. On Thursday, Mr. Biden also encouraged those in Raleigh to take advantage of free trips by ride-hailing companies to vaccination sites.

The flurry of travel reflects the sense of urgency as the pace of vaccinations slows and the White House acknowledges that the country will most likely fall short of Mr. Biden’s goal of partially inoculating 70 percent of American adults by July 4.

Health officials also warn of the rising danger of the Delta variant, a more contagious version of the coronavirus first identified in India. Dr. Fauci said this week that the variant accounted for an estimated 20 percent of new infections.

“You know there’s going to be others, as well,” Mr. Biden said of the variant. “You know it’s going to happen. We got to get our young people vaccinated. So talk to those moms when you knock on the doors.”

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