Half of American adults have received at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine. Now comes the hard part: persuading the other half to get it.
WASHINGTON — Now that President Biden has met his goal to have all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, health officials around the country are hitting what appears to be a soft ceiling: More than half the nation’sadults have received at least one dose, but it is going to take hard work — and some creative changes in strategy — to convince the rest.
State health officials, business leaders, policymakers and politicians are struggling to figure out how to tailor their messages, and their tactics, to persuade not only the vaccine hesitant but also the indifferent. Officials in many states are looking past mass vaccination sites and toward having patients get vaccinated by their own doctors, where people are most at ease — a shift that will require the Biden administration to ship vaccine in much smaller quantities.
White House and state health officials are calling this next phase of the vaccination campaign “the ground game,” and are likening it to a get-out-the-vote effort. The work will be labor intensive — much of it may fall on private employers — but the risk is clear: If it takes too long to reach “herd immunity,” the point at which the spread of the virus slows, worrisome new variants could emerge that evade the vaccine.
“If you think of this as a war,” said Michael Carney, the senior vice president for emerging issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, “we’re about to enter the hand-to-hand combat phase of the war.”
On Wednesday, President Biden urged all employers in the United States to offer full pay to their workers for time off to be inoculated and to recover from any aftereffects. He also announced a paid leave tax credit to offset the cost for companies with fewer than 500 employees, and appealed to the unvaccinated to get their shots.