U.S. President Joe Biden is concerned about the nation splitting into two groups: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
“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 of COVID, and places where … the fall arrives and death and severe illnesses return,” Biden said Wednesday as he announced new coronavirus vaccination initiatives with inducements.
“Getting the vaccine is not a partisan act,” added Biden, noting production of the vaccines was done under presidents from both parties. “We need to be one America — united, free from fear.”
Biden has set a goal of vaccinating 70% of adults in the United States with at least one injection by July 4, when the country celebrates its Independence Day. The rate is currently 63%.
With COVID-19 vaccination rates lagging, especially in some minority communities, Biden recommends the Shots at the Shop program, which includes more than 1,000 neighborhood barbers and hairstylists. The hair professionals will attend training sessions this month about coronavirus vaccines and then hold vaccination clinics in their establishments.
“Barbershops, beauty shops are hubs of activity and information in Black and brown communities particularly,” Biden said at the White House.
The administration’s National Month of Action will also include several “national organizations, local government leaders, community-based and faith-based partners, businesses, employers, social media influencers, celebrities, athletes, colleges, young people and thousands of volunteers,” according to the White House.
“America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer — a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured,” Biden said.
Two of the largest child care providers in the United States are offering free drop-in appointments at more than 2,500 sites to parents and other caregivers while they get vaccinated.
Some pharmacies this month will stay open overnight on Fridays for vaccinations.
“We’re going to continue encouraging people to get vaccinated with incentives and fun rewards,” said Biden.
Among vaccine incentives being offered by the private sector and endorsed by the White House:
— A national pharmacy chain is launching a sweepstakes for vaccinated people to win free ship cruises, cash prizes and other rewards.
— The top professional baseball league is giving free tickets to those who get vaccinated, and it is also offering vaccinations at stadiums.
— A supermarket chain will award dozens of vaccinated shoppers free groceries for a year.
— An airline is offering its frequent-fliers a year of free flights or a round trip for two in any class of service.
— A major brewery is also giving away free beer to all Americans 21 and older if the U.S. reaches Biden’s 70% goal by July 4.
“That’s right — get a shot and have a beer,” Biden remarked, as he listed some of the inducements.
A national doughnut chain said Tuesday that it had given away 1.5 million glazed doughnuts to those with proof of vaccination.
Krispy Kreme said anyone could get a free doughnut, vaccinated or not, on Friday to celebrate National Doughnut Day. But people who have been vaccinated will get an additional doughnut.
“I would not recommend a Krispy Kreme with a beer, but I would leave that to other people to decide,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki remarked about the plethora of nationwide promotions tied to COVID-19 vaccinations.
A national vaccination tour, led by Vice President Kamala Harris, will also be launched across Southern and Midwestern states, Biden announced Wednesday.
Harris will be joined by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as well as first lady Jill Biden and members of the president’s Cabinet.