Biden: The first COVID vaccines were authorized under a Republican president, you know

Biden: The first COVID vaccines were authorized under a Republican president, you know

“Without the vaccines, this world would have been in for another 1917 Spanish Flu, where up to 100 million people died,” Trump said a few weeks ago. “Because of the vaccines we pushed and developed in record time, nothing like that will be even close to happening. Just a mention please!”

Biden still won’t give him a mention. But he will now allude to Trump’s role in the process.

Which is odd. If he’s going to throw 45 a bone on vaccine development in the name of getting Republican holdouts to get vaxxed, he shouldn’t half-ass it this way. Say the guy’s name.

If he had named Trump, Trump might have put out a new statement reiterating that everyone should go get their shots.

Of course, that statement probably also would have included a gratuitous aside about Biden being an illegitimate president who stole the election. Team Joe, realizing that, may have decided in the end that appealing to Trump’s vanity wasn’t worth the trouble.

Biden’s worried about the fact that red states have slipped behind blue states in the race towards herd immunity, in some cases waaaaay behind. The national average for the percentage of the population that’s received at least one dose of the vaccine is 51 percent. Every last state won by Trump in November is below that average. Iowa is only two points behind but seven Trump states are at 40 percent or lower. The indigo blue state of Vermont has delivered first doses to 71 percent of its residents. The blood red state of Mississippi has delivered just 34 percent, less than half of Vermont’s share. If we end up with a mini-wave of COVID this summer, it’s going to hit the red states, particularly the deep south, the hardest. Biden’s presumably thinking that a little reminder that Trump led the way on vaccination can’t hurt to get Republican holdouts motivated.

He used his speech today to highlight some of the many incentive programs happening to entice people into getting vaccinated. CVS just announced a national sweepstakes although most of the prizes are weak, I think. Anheuser-Busch also rolled out a new promotion: Free beer!

How it works: Interested applicants over the age of 21 “will simply upload a picture of themselves in their favorite place to grab a beer” to to enter to get a $5 digital pre-paid card that can be used to purchase their free drink. The giveaway is limited to the first 200,000 people.

“[N]ow that we are at this pivotal moment where people are excited to be together again, it only makes sense that we would unite our full portfolio and take this action to encourage people to get vaccinated,” said Anheuser-Busch chief marketing officer Marcel Marcondes in a news release.

Does it … have to be Anheuser-Busch beer? How about something imported instead?

The strongest incentive available may be totally free. Polling has showed that a meaningful share of the remaining holdouts just don’t believe that the vaccine is free. Some are worried about surprise bills arriving in the mail weeks after getting their shots. If the White House can change public perceptions about that, they may be able to access a new reservoir of demand:

When Paul Moser considers getting a coronavirus vaccine, he also thinks about his outstanding medical debt: $1,200 from a few urology visits that he has been unable to pay off.

Mr. Moser, a 52-year-old gas station cashier in New York State, has friends who were surprised by bills for coronavirus tests, and worries the same could happen with the vaccine. For now, he’s holding off on getting his shot.

“We were told by the legislators that all the testing was supposed to be free, and then surprise, it’s $150,” he said. “I agree it’s important to get vaccinated, but I don’t have a sense of urgency around it.”

The feds were so eager to remove cost from the equation of getting vaccinated that they made vaccine providers sign a contract pledging that they won’t charge recipients a dime. Even so, the message hasn’t fully penetrated. When the Times told one interviewee that the vaccine won’t cost her, she replied, “So I’ll just have to pay my co-pay?”

Probably everyone in the United States knows someone at this point who’s been vaccinated. You would think it’d be as simple as holdouts who are worried about the cost asking their vaxxed friends, “Did you get a bill?” As it is, Biden should be hammering the point that the vaccine is free in every public appearance on this topic. Not everyone follows the news closely. A little presidential repetition can go a long way.

I’ll leave you with Jen Psaki giving some bad advice. A beer and a Krispy Kreme are among the finest pleasures in life.

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John Sexton 7:00 PM on December 09, 2023