Knowing which Americans have been vaccinated is “absolutely the government’s business,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Thursday.
Speaking to CNN, the HHS secretary was responding to criticism of President Biden’s comments Tuesday about going “door to door, literally knocking on doors” to get wary Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“It is absolutely the government’s business, it is taxpayers’ business, if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy,” Becerra told the network, noting the government has had to “spend trillions of dollars to try to keep Americans alive during this pandemic.”
On Tuesday, Biden announced that his administration would step up efforts to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 with a new program “literally knocking on doors,” urging people to get the shots.
During his remarks, the president said: “We need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and ofttimes, door to door, literally knocking on doors” to encourage vaccination.
Those knocking on the doors, he added, offer information about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The administration had failed to reach its self-imposed goal of having 70 percent of the nation’s eligible people at least partially vaccinated by July 4th.
In a briefing earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that by the end of this week, nearly 160 million Americans would be fully vaccinated.
When asked about whether the administration would halt or slow initiatives to convince Americans to take the vaccine now that the remaining holdouts seem unwilling, Psaki insisted that efforts would continue, though she did rule out any federal mandates for now.
Biden suggested that the unique door-knocking approach was needed now that “we are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites that did so much in the spring.”
In addition to the door-to-door information campaign, Psaki said measures would include a “renewed emphasis on getting the vaccines to more primary care doctors” and increasing access for workers at job sites.