Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, implored Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccination on Friday morning. Zients said the Omicron variant of COVID is “caus for concern, not panic.”
“Nearly 200 million Americans have done their part by getting fully vaccinated,” he said. “And we have the tools and the know-how we need to keep people safe. Vaccines clearly remain our most important tool, and the doctors’ message is crystal clear: If you are fully vaccinated before June, it’s time for you to go get your booster. If you’re unvaccinated, go get your first shot today. And if your kids are five years or older and not yet vaccinated, get them the protection of the vaccine as well.”
Zients noted there were 2.2 million shots given on Thursday, Dec. 2. It was the highest single-day total since May. However, that number included more than 1 million booster shots.
President Joe Biden outlined a handful of steps on Thursday the country will take in combatting the Omicron variant.
Biden wants the roughly 100 million eligible Americans to get their booster shots. He is also aiming to help more parents vaccinate their children to keep schools open. The administration is also making at-home tests free. There’s also a goal of accelerating efforts to “vaccinate the rest of the world.”
In addition to launching a public education campaign for boosters, the administration is going to be reimbursing doctors for COVID-19 vaccine counseling.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted 41 million Americans have received a booster shot already, but millions of Americans remain in need of a booster.
“Number one, there are still people who don’t know that they’re eligible,” Murthy said. “Number two, there are seniors who may not realize the benefit of the boosters. Number three, there are also just people working two or three jobs who haven’t had time to get boosted.”
The administration has created a “booster information toolkit.” They are creating versions in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Haitian Creole, Arabic and Russian.
They plan to do outreach to communities of color and Native communities by hosting health fairs, webinars and virtual town halls. They’re also planning email, phone banking, text banking, podcasts, letters, social media, postcards, leaflets and newspaper ads.
“Just about everything short of carrier pigeons,” Murthy said. “Our goal is really to leave no stone unturned as we seek to reach people with lifesaving information.”
Medicaid is going to begin paying healthcare providers to talk to families about the importance of vaccinating children. It will be backed by 100 percent federal funding.
“Now, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program provide insurance coverage to over 40 percent of all children in the United States,” Murthy said. “And they’re a significant source of healthcare for children of color. This support will help more families get connected to the personalized, trusted medical advice that they need and deserve.”
Murthy said he and his wife are two of the “millions” of parents who have been waiting for the opportunity to “protect” their children.
“There are few things that feel better than knowing your child is safer,” he said.
The U.S. has already shipped 291 million doses to 110 different countries for free. On Thursday, Biden announced accelerating the delivery of more vaccines around the globe — 200 million more doses in the next 100 days.
Today the U.S. is shipping 11 million doses to other countries, with 9 million going to Africa.