Door-to-door vaccination program begins in three states - will it work?

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The Biden administration’s community outreach approach to encouraging those hesitant to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has begun. The first states where it is happening are North Carolina, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Some states are rejecting the program as government overreach. Biden announced the program last week.

The program is in response to the vaccine wall the Biden administration has hit – those who want the vaccines have received them or are in the two-shot process, leaving those who do not want the vaccine or those unsure about it. The administration hopes to convince those still hesitant but persuadable to get the shot. The idea is to use local people to go throughout a community with a low vaccination rate and provide information about the vaccines. Local people volunteer through non-profits, for example, and if the person they approach is agreeable, a medical professional will be available to administer the vaccination. Some people will be able to receive the vaccination in their homes, eliminating transportation barriers.

North Carolina launched their ‘Doses to Doors’ initiative in Mecklenburg County, the state’s second most populous county which includes Charlotte – the biggest city in the state.

Currently, 49 percent of residents in Mecklenburg County are fully vaccinated, among the higher rates in the state.

Volunteers are canvassing communities in the counties with lower vaccination rates, providing them information on the immunizations.

If they want, residents can also receive a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

‘We’re not confrontational, it’s not like you have to get the shot,’ Robert Dawkins with Action NC, a non-profit providing volunteers for the program, told WBTV.

‘But our job is to dispel rumors and things.’

County residents can also schedule an at-home vaccine appointment online.

In Randolph County, Georgia, a remote, primarily black, rural community about 100 miles south of Atlanta, a similar program has begun. A lack of infrastructure in the county leaves residents without information. Most areas allow for online appointments to be booked, for example, but about one-third of the people living in Randolph County don’t have internet access. Others are skeptical of the vaccine or believe it to be unsafe. Shots are also being offered at home if the person so chooses.

The Milwaukee Health Department is using the same approach in Wisconsin. Less than half of Milwaukee County’s population is vaccinated. ‘It’s very important that we get out here and educate the people in this community about COVID and the dangers of it,’ said Marcus Austin, a man volunteering for the program in Milwaukee, said in a press conference.

South Carolina and Missouri have rejected the program.

‘The prospect of government vaccination teams showing up unannounced or unrequested at the door of “targeted” homeowners or on their property will further deteriorate the public’s trust,’ South Carolina Gov Henry McMaster wrote in a letter on Friday.

South Carolina is among the ten states with the lowest vaccination rates. Only about 45% of its residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Missouri is facing the largest COVID-19 surge in the country. Cases have increased by 38% in the last two weeks. The increase is reported to be from 938 cases per day two weeks ago to 1,298 per day as of Tuesday. Missouri Governor Mike Parsons tweeted his response to Biden last week. Both he and his wife are vaccinated.

The White House missed its own goal of 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4th. The goal still hasn’t been met – 67.7% of American adults have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 59% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

Will this program work? Frank Luntz, usually described as a Republican pollster, has been working with the White House on messaging and effective methods to encourage people to be vaccinated. He is sharing research to help the administration develop a strategy. He has invited members of the White House coronavirus task force into his focus groups and the White House has included him in briefing calls with news networks. Naturally, as this is the Biden administration, there is some Trump-bashing.

Luntz confirmed that the White House approached him amid the country’s COVID-19 response, telling Politico, “The Biden team didn’t ask me for anything. They simply said, ‘Whatever you find, we want to know.”

Luntz compared those efforts to that of former President Trump, contending that Biden’s predecessor “did not care about the research we started to do.”

“This is more than Trump did. Trump did not care about the research we started to do. The [Trump] White House wasn’t interested in it, he didn’t promote it,” Luntz told the news outlet.

Luntz says of the program that the “likelihood of success is extremely low.” He advises that getting Trump involved would be the most likely effective move the administration could make.

“I think Joe Biden needs to say explicitly, ‘President Trump, tell your people to get vaccinated … If you won’t, explain why. And if you won’t, stop trying to take credit for developing the vaccine because what good is the vaccine if people won’t get it,” Luntz told Politico.

That’s the irony, though. Joe Biden promised to work with everyone, to unite the country, on the campaign trail. Democrats and Independents fell for that malarkey from a career politician with little history of working like that. He’s been exposed as just another partisan Democrat, unwilling to ask for help from the former president, whom he despises. He doesn’t even acknowledge the success the previous administration had in getting a vaccine to market and to Americans – Operation Warp Speed. All Biden has to do is ask for a PSA from Trump and for him to encourage his supporters to get the vaccinations when he speaks publicly and it would go a long way. President Unity is too petty and immature to do that, though, and he loses his biggest voice to encourage the majority of those who refuse to get vaccinated – rural Republican men.