Biden launches community corps to boost COVID-19 vaccinations

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Seeking to overcome vaccine hesitancy, the Biden administration is unveiling a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ “We Can Do This” campaign features television and social media ads, but it also relies on a community corps of public health, athletic, faith and other groups to spread the word about the safety and efficacy of the three approved vaccines.

With the help of groups as varied as NASCAR and the NAACP, this is part of President Joe Biden’s multi-billion dollar effort to convince Americans to get the vaccine.

The focus on trusted validators stems from both internal and public surveys showing those skeptical of the vaccines are most likely to be swayed by local, community and medical encouragement to get vaccinated, rather than messages from politicians.

Courtney Rowe, the White House’s COVID-19 director of strategic communications and engagement, briefed governors on the new initiative Tuesday, telling them that people “want to hear from those they know and trust.” She added that the initiative would be “empowering the leaders people want to hear from.”

The coalition includes health groups like the American Medical Association and the National Council of Urban Indian Health, sports leagues like the NFL and MLB, rural groups, unions and Latino, Black, Asian-American Pacific Islander and Native American organizations as well as coalitions of faith, business and veterans leaders.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will meet with the more than 275 inaugural members of the community corps on Thursday to kick off the effort.

The Department of Health and Human Services was also launching its first national ad campaign promoting vaccinations, aimed at senior, Latino and Black Americans. And in partnership with Facebook, it was deploying social media profile frames so that ordinary Americans could share their intent to get vaccinations and their experience with the shots to their peers.

The administration is also pumping $10 billion to increase vaccine access in vulnerable communities, including public outreach. They are also launching a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in English and Spanish to urge people to seek information from the government about the vaccines and get the shot when they qualify.

Biden has set a goal of getting 200 million vaccine shots in people’s arms in his first 100 days in office, double the goal he initially set in December.

“I know it’s ambitious, twice our original goal, but no other country in the world has even come close,” Biden said at his first news conference last week.

Biden is trying to control a raging pandemic that has killed more than 550,000 Americans by obtaining enough vaccine for the country’s 330 million residents by May.

By the end of May, the U.S. will have enough supply of COVID-19 vaccine to cover all adults in the country.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has estimated that 70% to 85% of the population needs to be immune to the virus to reach herd immunity.

About 54.6 million people, or 16.4% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data. 29.4% of the U.S. population, or 97.5 million adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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