Biden administration to push for more Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19

People waiting to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at a clinic as cases rise in the state in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, on April 18, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The Biden administration will wage an intense push Monday (April 19) to persuade Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19, an effort timed to coincide with the deadline President Joe Biden set for states to extend vaccine eligibility to all adults age 16 or older.

The one-day campaign - officials are calling it a "blitz" and likening it to a "Get out the Vote" effort - will roll out on social media, including push notifications from Facebook and Twitter, as well as radio and television programmes, according to a senior administration official, who insisted on anonymity to preview the plan, first reported by Axios.

The president will appear in a public service announcement, and Vice-President Kamala Harris will take to social media to publicise the vaccines.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Mr Biden's top medical adviser for the pandemic, will try to reach young people with 15-second videos on Snapchat - an unusual platform for the 80-year-old infectious disease specialist.

While the administration has continuing media campaigns designed to reach people who are hesitant about vaccination - including Black and Latino Americans - Monday's media push will be widespread, the official said.

It will feature top administration officials - including Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, Surgeon-General Dr Vivek Murthy and Dr Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health - who will do more than 30 interviews across the country with local media outlets.

Officials will also appear on outlets targeted to specific audiences, like Telemundo and The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, which has a large following among African Americans.

More than 84 million Americans - roughly one-third of the adult population - are fully vaccinated, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and as of Sunday more than 209 million shots had been administered.

But after months of demand outstripping supply, Mr Biden officials expect that before long, vaccine supplies will exceed demand.

Mr Biden officials are well aware that if the United States is to reach herd immunity - when the virus can't spread easily because it will lack hosts - skeptics must be persuaded to take their shots.

Officials are especially concerned about a rise in vaccine hesitancy in the wake of the decision by federal health officials to "pause" the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while regulators examine six cases of rare blood clots among vaccine recipients.

A CDC advisory panel is expected to meet Friday to discuss the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and make recommendations about its use going forward.

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