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ANALYSIS: Why Does Joe Biden Want The Government To Evangelize For Vaccines?

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The Biden administration had no problems hitting its modest vaccination goals in the early months of 2021. Things are slowing down though, and President Joe Biden said people would be going “door-to-door” to encourage vaccinations.

It was relatively smooth sailing for President Joe Biden to reach 100 million doses in his first 100 days, and when he revised the goal to 200 million in 100 days, that milestone was shattered too. Now, vaccination rates are slowing down, and Biden is pressing harder than ever to get shots in arms.

The White House came up short of vaccinating 70% of American adults by July 4, which was the administration’s most recent stated goal. Federal officials have warned about the highly contagious Delta variant surging through unvaccinated communities, so new “surge response teams” were activated to combat a potential new wave of infection.

When Biden said at his Tuesday press conference that people would need to be going “door-to-door, literally knocking on doors” to make sure people get vaccinated, it set off a strong backlash in some circles. (RELATED: Marjorie Taylor Greene Compares Biden’s Door-To-Door Vaccine Push To Nazi Storm Troopers)

The worst-case scenarios, including mandatory door-to-door vaccinations, don’t to be an accurate depiction of what Biden meant. The federal government has access to broad vaccination data, including how many people have been vaccinated in certain areas and what the demographics of those people are. They say they have no way to know if a specific individual has gotten the jab or not, and thus can’t target households of unvaccinated people.

The door-to-door vaccination campaign by the Biden team has also been going on since April. The administration has been deploying teams, mostly made up by local volunteers and community organizations, to go door-to-door spreading information about the vaccines and their availability in communities with low vaccination rates.

While not entirely novel, the evangelistic approach to defeating vaccine hesitancy hasn’t been a widespread tactic globally. In Leicester, England, officials went door-to-door in March with actual shots and offered them to homes where they knew there was vaccine hesitancy. Still, most countries with successful vaccination campaigns have not needed to resort to these kinds of tactics.

Does the United States need to make such a targeted, labor-intensive effort to get more people vaccinated? There are around 255 million adults in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. An additional 17 million children aged 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. With over 158 million Americans fully vaccinated, that means nearly 60% of Americans who are eligible to get inoculated have been.

Death totals have plummeted to about 150 per day, the lowest number since the pandemic began in earnest. Cases have ebbed-and-flowed a bit more, but with a sizable portion of the vulnerable population vaccinated, deaths haven’t followed the same trend and neither have hospitalizations.

How does the United States stack up to the rest of the world? Setting aside outlier countries with minute populations like Gibraltar, San Marino and the Falkland Islands, the U.S. is near the top of the list with 99 doses administered per 100 people. It trails only the United Kingdom, Belgium and Canada when it comes to peer nations in Western Europe and North America, and is ahead of others like Germany, Italy and France.

The vaccine has been available to all American adults since April 19, nearly three whole months ago. The U.S. has so many surplus vaccine doses that it’s began donating tens of millions to foreign countries since not enough Americans want to take them. (RELATED: Press Secretary Jen Psaki Says Criticism Of Door-To-Door Vaccination Campaign Is A ‘Disservice To The Country’)

With vaccine access so widespread at this point, and nearly three months gone by to make an appointment or go to a walk-up clinic, it seems safe to assume that most Americans who are still not vaccinated are simply uninterested in getting a shot. Polling data indicates that’s the case, too.

Not only is it important to consider how much of the population isn’t vaccinated, but who, specifically, isn’t. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been clear that the elderly and the immunocompromised are the most at-risk from serious or life-threatening COVID-19 cases. Data doesn’t exist that breaks down vaccination rates for various medical conditions, but it does for age groups.

According to The Washington Post, 82% of Americans aged 75 and over have received at least one shot of vaccine. For those aged 65-74, the rate is 85%. For 50-64 year-olds, it’s 69%.

In other words, the people who most need the shots have largely gotten them. It’s not until the age cutoff reaches under 40 that a majority of people haven’t gotten a shot. The remaining holdouts in the elderly populace have had even longer to get one, too, as they were made eligible months earlier than the general public in every state. (RELATED: Officials Go Door-To-Door In UK To Test People For South African Coronavirus Strain After 11 People Are Infected)

Biden’s campaign to send folks to spread the good word about vaccines to people who have had information about them and access to them for months already sticks out. It’s not being repeated at a wide scale anywhere else in the world. Countries like Israel, which surged ahead of the U.S. in vaccinations before leveling off in recent months, have simply moved on back to normal life, keeping doses available to stragglers.

Deaths are nearing rock-bottom and society is reopening. Unless Biden intends to mandate the vaccine, he won’t reach 100% vaccination regardless of how many volunteers knock on doors.