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As U.S. health officials and the Biden administration desperately try to kickstart the stalling rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in face of the highly contagious Delta variant, President Biden gave a speech on Thursday, where he once again urged Americans to get vaccinated and announced additional steps to encourage vaccination.
Echoing statements from the CDC and his chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden referred to the current situation of rising infections as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, calling the fact that unvaccinated Americans are dying despite the availability of an effective vaccine “an American tragedy”. He went on to emphasize that getting vaccinated is not a political statement, nor is it a proper exercise of personal freedom. “With freedom comes responsibility,” Biden said. “Your decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else. So, please, exercise responsible judgement. Get vaccinated — for yourself, for the people you love, for your country.”
Biden then urged employers to offer paid time off for workers to get themselves and family members vaccinated. He also called on local and state governments to offer a $100 cash bonus to those who get fully vaccinated, hoping that a little monetary incentive could at least sway those undecided on whether to get jabbed. Finally, stopping just short of a mask mandate for federal employees, he announced several inconveniences for unvaccinated federal workers, including a mask mandate, strict testing rules and being banned from work-related travel.
As the following chart, based on findings from KFF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, suggests, Americans aren’t easily persuaded when it comes to their stance on COVID-19 vaccines. Having circled back to a group of respondents originally surveyed in January, KFF found that two thirds of those who did not want to get a vaccination in January stand firm on their refusal to get jabbed, with another 9 percent wanting to wait and see. Meanwhile 24 percent of those against the vaccine in January ended up with at least one dose in June, most of them convinced by family members or their employers. Of those who were keen to get vaccinated in January, 92 percent have received at least one dose by now, while another 3 percent plan to get it asap.
This chart shows how many Americans have changed their minds on getting a COVID-19 vaccine between January and June 2021.