As the more transmissible Delta variant spreads throughout the US, President Joe Biden is scrambling to find ways to get more Americans vaccinated, including going door-to-door.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Biden said mass vaccination sites across the country are closing down, and now “we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”
Experts have said communities with the least vaccination rates are more at risk of outbreaks caused by the more transmissible Delta variant, which originated in India. The variant may also be able to evade protection from existing vaccines, as Insider’s Aria Bendix reported.
Delta poses the most risks to the unvaccinated. A recent Associated Press analysis found almost all of the COVID-19 deaths in the US are among those who are unvaccinated.
“Our fight against this virus is not over,” Biden said. “Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk. The people that they care about are at risk.”
The president’s approach is to change from large public messaging into more local approaches, equipping local medical experts and professionals to work with their communities to get more people vaccinated.
As mass vaccine sites close, the president said he wanted vaccines to be given at local settings like pharmacies, churches, festivals, or workplaces. He wants the experience to be like “going in to get toothpaste or something else you need from a drugstore.”
“We’re going to put even more emphasis on getting vaccinated in your community, close to home, conveniently at a location you’re already familiar with,” he said.
About 55% of all Americans are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows, but vaccination rates are declining. While more than 3 million Americans received vaccines daily during the peak in April, the rate has been declining in recent weeks, at one point seeing only 700,000 people getting shots per day.
Additionally, a Washington Post-ABC News poll from last week found that 29% of Americans say they most likely won’t take a vaccine.
Experts have warned that unvaccinated people are not only risking their own health but risk allowing for more variants.
“Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN.
“The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply,” he added.
Biden warned that while were close to getting out the pandemic, it’s important for everyone to do their part and stay vigilant.
“We are emerging from one of the darkest years in our nation’s history into a summer of hope and joy, hopefully. Think about where you were — where you were last year, where you are today; what you were able to do last year at this time and do today. It’s a year of hard-fought progress. We can’t get complacent now,” he said.