Joe Biden is embarking on a weeklong series of events to promote his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan, but his administration also faces the challenge of winning over vaccine skeptics.
Although the numbers of Americans who say they will not get the vaccine has dropped, an NPR/Marist poll from last week showed that 30% still do not want to get the shots. Republican men and supporters of Donald Trump were the most likely to say that they would not get the vaccine.
CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe asked Biden today whether Trump himself should be out there promoting the vaccine to convince those who refuse to get it.
Biden, who had just made short remarks at the White House, said, “I discussed it with my team, and the thing they say has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, the local preacher, the local people in the community say. So I urge all local docs and ministers and priests to talk about why, why it is important to get the vaccine, and even after that until everyone is in fact vaccinated, to wear the mask.”
It is a significant issue for the White House and state health officials as they try to emerge from the pandemic. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also was asked how the administration planned to reach different communities. The administration reportedly is embarking on a TV, radio and digital advertising blitz, with $1.5 billion set aside for the campaign, according to the health news site Stat.
Psaki, too, talked of the importance of reaching people via local figures, pointing to polling that showed that 81% of Republicans who said they would trust their own doctor or healthcare provider for vaccination information. But she also said that they “are trying to be creative in earned media in meeting people where they are.” She cited a recent interview that Gloria Estefan had with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We are focused on earned media and establishing partnerships with trusted messengers right now,” she said.
Trump has said that people should get vaccinated. At CPAC last month, he said, in the midst of criticism of Biden, “So everybody go get your shot.” Trump and wife Melania Trump reportedly were vaccinated in January. But Trump was not among the former presidents to appear in a recent Ad Council PSA to encourage vaccinations.
Biden also announced that Gene Sperling, who served as the director of the National Economic Council during the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, will oversee the rollout of the relief program. Sperling is married to screenwriter Allison Abner.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff also are promoting the relief package this week. They landed in Las Vegas this afternoon and are scheduled to overnight in Los Angeles, where they have a home.
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