With the first shots being prepared for delivery to states next week, Biden’s team is already laying the groundwork for a public education campaign by placing scientists in top posts — and promising to defer to them — and putting an intensive focus on getting the vaccine to underserved populations, according to public health experts who’ve spoken with the transition.
Biden’s messaging now could have an impact on how quickly the U.S. gets back to normal. Health experts think if 75 to 80 percent of Americans get the shots, the nation can potentially achieve herd immunity by next fall and end the pandemic by the close of next year. Lower participation would mean it would take much longer to effectively stop new infections.
“It’s not enough to just get the vaccine out into the community, but getting the community to accept the vaccine,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at University of Minnesota and a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, who characterizes the dilemma as “the last-inch challenge.”