Free beer, other new incentives for Joe Biden’s ‘vaccine sprint’ (Video)

In an effort to get more Americans vaccinated, President Joe Biden is offering incentives for people to get their shot.

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JACQUELYN MARTIN, Associated Press

George Ripley, 72, of Washington, holds up his free beer after receiving the J & J COVID-19 vaccine shot, at The REACH at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Dangling everything from sports tickets to a free beer, President Joe Biden is looking for anything that will get people to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 shots. Biden announced a “month of action” to urge Americans to get vaccinated before the July 4 holiday, including an early summer sprint of incentives and a slew of new steps to ease barriers and make getting shots more appealing to those who haven’t received them. He is closing in on his goal, 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day. 

“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in the fight against this virus,” Biden said from the White House. He predicted that with more vaccinations, America will soon experience “a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebrations. An All-American summer.”

Biden’s plan will continue to use public and private-sector partnerships, mirroring the “whole of government” effort he deployed to make vaccines more widely available after he took office. The president said he was “pulling out all the stops” to drive up the vaccination rate.

Among those efforts is a promotional giveaway announced Wednesday by Anheuser-Busch, saying it will “buy Americans 21+ a round of beer” once Biden’s 70% goal is met.

“Get a shot and have a beer,” Biden said, advertising the promotion even though he himself refrains from drinking alcohol.

Aiming to make injections more convenient, Biden is announcing that many pharmacies are extending their hours this month — and thousands will remain open overnight on Fridays. The White House is also stepping up its efforts to help employers run on-site vaccination clinics. 

Biden will also announce that he is assigning Vice President Kamala Harris to lead a “We Can Do This” vaccination tour to encourage shots. It will include first lady Jill Biden, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and Cabinet officials. Harris’ travel will focus on the South, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country, while other officials will travel to areas of the Midwest with below-average rates.

To date, 62.9% of the adult U.S. population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 133.9 million are fully vaccinated. The rate of new vaccinations has slowed to an average below 555,000 per day, down from more than 800,000 when incentives like lotteries were announced, and down from a peak of nearly 2 million per day in early April when demand was much higher.

The lengths to which the U.S. is resorting to convince Americans to take a shot stands in contrast to much of the world, where vaccines are far less plentiful. Facing a mounting U.S. surplus, the Biden administration plans to begin sharing 80 million doses with the world this month.

“All over the world people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighborhood drugstore,” Biden said.

Thanks to the vaccinations, the rate of cases and deaths in the U.S. is at their lowest since the beginning of the pandemic last March, averaging under 16,000 new cases and under 400 deaths per day.

As part of the effort to drive Americans to get shots, the White House is borrowing tools from political campaigns, including phone banks, door-knocking and texting. The administration says more than 1,000 such events will be held this weekend alone.

 

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