Biden announces month-long push to immunise unvaccinated US adults

President continues 'war-time effort' for national vaccination programme

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Biden announced a plan to work with churches, colleges, businesses and celebrities to boost coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S., where demand for the shots has faltered. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg
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President Joe Biden announced a month-long push for June to vaccinate more people in the US against Covid-19 as part of a move to bring the country "closer to normal" by July 4.

Mr Biden on Wednesday said measures would include keeping pharmacies open for 24 hours and providing free child care for parents receiving vaccines.

He said the message would be spread to unvaccinated people on weekends, shots would be offered at black-owned salons and barbershops, and there would be more incentives from US companies.

"All over the world, people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighbourhood drugstore," Mr Biden said.

The new push answers concerns over vaccine access, incentives and paid time off.

A recent Kaiser poll found that 21 per cent of unvaccinated people in the US who have shown willingness to be immunised would be more inclined to do it if their employer ensured paid time off in case they experienced side-effects from the shot.

Mr Biden called on employers to grant sick pay for vaccinations in April, but it is unclear how his administration is enforcing it.

He has aimed to have 70 per cent of the US adult population vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4, the country's independence day.

About 62.9 per cent of people over the age of 18 have had one dose, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Mr Biden declared this summer to be one “of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An All-American summer".

But he said unvaccinated people remained at risk and that Covid-19 death numbers were unchanged in areas that lagged behind with shots.

His comments reflect a recent report in The  New York Times that states the infection rate for unvaccinated people in the US is as high as it was during the worst surge in January.

Vice President Kamala Harris will also "launch a national vaccination tour" in southern and Midwest states, along with Cabinet secretaries, her husband Doug Emhoff, and Dr Jill Biden, the president's wife.

"It's clearer than ever – the more people we get vaccinated, the more success we're going to have in our fight against this virus."

"I don't want to see the country that is already too divided become divided in a new way, between places where people live free from fear and places where, when the fall arrives, death and severe illness has returned," Mr Biden said.

Overall, the rate of cases and deaths nationally are at their lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The CDC is recording a seven-day average of about 15,600 infections and fewer than 400 deaths daily as the nation reopens.

"It's clearer than ever – the more people we get vaccinated, the more success we're going to have in our fight against this virus," Mr Biden said.

This week, thousands of emails from top US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci were obtained by BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

In one, an ABC News reporter referred to a US Homeland Security epidemiological model forecasting 500,000 Covid deaths.

“That seems exceptionally high,” Dr Fauci wrote back in April 2020.

Today, the official death toll in the US is close to 600,000.

Correspondence with Dr Fauci in the winter and spring, when Covid-19 cases were first rising in the US, showed a cordial, humble and professional doctor coming to grips with his rising fame.

Another email showed a top Chinese health official, George Gao, sharing concern over how Dr Fauci was being treated in the US.

“Thank you for your kind note. All is well despite some crazy people in this world," he said in his reply.