US steps up efforts to vaccinate skeptics and rural populations

By Patricia de Arce

Washington, May 4 (EFE).- The United States has set a new Covid-19 vaccination goal to reach its July 4 celebration with 160 million people — almost half of the population– immunized and 70 percent having had one shot, while taking steps to convince skeptics and to get vaccines into rural areas.

US President Joe Biden announced these new goals on Tuesday and promised that getting vaccinated will be “easier than ever” from now on, in addition to insisting on decoupling the immunization campaign from politics.

Getting vaccinated “is not a Democrat or a Republican issue,” and it is “science” that supports this recommendation, Biden said.Vaccination in the US is going well, with 105.5 million people now fully inoculated and 147.5 million with at least one dose, according to updated data.

However, there are still millions of people who either do not want to be inoculated, or do not believe it is necessary, or who live in areas and communities with limited access to vaccines.

For this reason, in this new phase, the administration wants to focus on these groups, as well as children, to prepare for the return to the classroom in the fall.

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency approves Pfizer for minors between 12 and 15 years old, the government will start to guarantee it as soon as possible.

Ahead of that, the measures announced Tuesday by Biden have been activated to extend immunization and get to Independence Day with a situation close to “normality.”

The objective on this occasion will be twofold: to convince skeptics and reach those who have the most difficulties in accessing the vaccine. To do this, a network of some 40,000 pharmacies will be ordered to vaccinate without prior appointment.

There will also be new investments to facilitate access to the vaccine. Among them is $250 million to hire personnel to help in vaccination campaigns and to facilitate access to the most risky groups or the most reluctant, by helping in multiple ways, including transportation.

Another $130 million will be allocated to education and information campaigns aimed at rural communities, ethnic minorities, the most under-served communities, the disabled and other groups. Likewise, for rural areas, direct delivery of vaccines to clinics is foreseen.

After weeks with massive vaccination centers at full capacity throughout the country, what is being sought now is to reach more remote areas or marginal communities with small and mobile centers.

In addition, Biden told journalists after his speech that his goals for July 4 do not mean that this battle will end that day, and stressed that vaccination should continue in the following months. EFE


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