WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – The president’s visit to North Carolina Thursday will be his first since winning election last November. But, this will be a campaign stop of a different sort: one focused on public health.
President Joe Biden’s hoping his trip will give a shot in the arm to North Carolina’s lagging coronavirus vaccination rate. C.D.C. data show 39 states outperforming the Tarheel State when it comes doses administered per capita.
Biden will visit a clinic in Raleigh to highlight vaccine availability and safety, as the more infectious Delta variant spreads.
“We want to make sure we’re making the case,” White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz said, “ultimately the vaccine, and getting vaccinated is a personal decision, but we can make clear that the benefits strongly outweigh any risk.”
White House spokespeople said 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a vaccination site, some of which are open 24-hours a day.
But, less than half of Americans are fully vaccinated. Dr. Vish Viswanath is a professor of Health Communication at Harvard University. He said hesitancy stems from lack of information, mistrust, and complacency. But, long-term public perception is trending toward trust, with one exception.
“Party identification continues to be somewhat stubborn,” said Viswanath.
Republicans are statistically less likely than others to get vaccinated and one might not expect Biden’s endorsement to carry much sway. But, Viswanath argues the president isn’t wasting his breath
“I go out and speak, nobody pays attention,” he said with a chuckle, “but the President goes, everybody covers that story, that message gets really amplified and it reaches people who have not been reached.”
The country is likely to miss the president’s goal of having 70 percent of adults receive at least one vaccination dose by Independence Day. Meeting that mark is now expected to take a few extra weeks.
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