In a press briefing on July 6, President Joe Biden announced a new strategy in an effort to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 in areas of the country where vaccination rates are low, as well as to respond to surges in the viral infection when they occur in those areas.
As noted in an article on the briefing at MedPage Today, about 183 million U.S. residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, representing well over half of the eligible population. Among adults, nearly 68% have received at least one shot. But these numbers don’t convey the wide disparities in vaccination rates throughout the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proportion of the entire state population (not just those eligible for the vaccine) that has received at least one vaccine dose ranges from 74.6% in Vermont to 37.4% in Mississippi. And lately, COVID-19 case numbers have risen substantially in many areas where the vaccination rate is low.
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Targeted vaccine outreach
Biden announced that the federal government would adopt a more targeted vaccine outreach approach, including door-to-door outreach in areas where this is feasible. This is especially crucial, he said, at a time when more than half of all new COVID-19 cases in many areas of the country are due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, which may also be deadlier than the original strain of the virus and earlier variants. Biden emphasized that vaccines remain highly effective against the virus, including the Delta variant, and that nearly all hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 since early May have occurred in unvaccinated people.
According to the new plan, instead of encouraging mass vaccination sites, the federal government will work to increase vaccine access and outreach at doctor’s offices, including primary care providers like family doctors and pediatricians. It will also work to support walk-in vaccination at pharmacies and temporary vaccination clinics at workplaces. The administration is also exploring ways to encourage employers to offer paid time off so that employees can get vaccinated at a nearby site. In addition to workplaces, the administration will work to support mobile vaccination clinics at places of worship and events like festivals and sporting events.
At the same time, the federal government will step up support for areas where COVID-19 surges are occurring, through agencies like the CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These agencies will help states prevent, detect, and respond to the spread of the Delta variant in areas with low vaccination rates.
According to recent survey data from the African American Research Collaborative, the top vaccine-related concerns of unvaccinated people include fears about blood clots, a “personal right” not to get the vaccine, and a fear that vaccines are being distributed before their safety is proven. In reality, blood clots are an extremely rare reaction linked to just one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines, and large-scale clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of all vaccines that are offered in the United States.
People with diabetes remain especially vulnerable to COVID-19, as a wide range of studies have shown since the beginning of the pandemic. The American Diabetes Association states that “COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to protect the health and safety of Americans and end the pandemic, which has taken a staggering toll on people living with diabetes and other underlying health conditions.”
Want to learn more about coronavirus and diabetes? Read our latest COVID-19 updates.