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Biden Makes A Big Push To Get More People Vaccinated This Month

NOEL KING, HOST:

The number of people getting COVID-19 vaccines has been dropping dramatically over the past few months. If it keeps going down, President Biden might not reach his goal of getting 70% of U.S. adults at least one covid shot by July 4. So President Biden is making a big push this month to get more people vaccinated. NPR's Pien Huang has this story.

PIEN HUANG, BYLINE: Around 500,000 people are getting their first COVID shots each day, and that number has been dropping. So Biden is calling for a national month of action to get more people vaccinated.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We need you. We need you to get your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers vaccinated. Help them find an appointment. Drive them to the site. Talk to them about why you made the choice for yourself.

HUANG: The administration is working with pharmacies to extend their hours and partnering with child care providers like the YMCA to give parents free kid-watching while they get their vaccines. Biden praised states and businesses for coming up with what he calls fun rewards.

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BIDEN: The state of Ohio had a heck of a fun reward - a new millionaire last week, thanks to the creative idea of the governor for holding a vaccination - vaccine lottery.

HUANG: Other promotions include free donuts, free beer, sweepstakes for free flights and free groceries. Claire Hannan, head of the Association of Immunization Managers, says the country is throwing a lot of things at the problem to see what sticks.

CLAIRE HANNAN: It's hard, when you're coming at something from so many different directions, to know what's working.

HUANG: But Hannan says one of the most effective things is having personal conversations with trusted sources like faith leaders, community health workers and primary care doctors.

HANNAN: Really making sure that the providers are engaged with their patient base - and so even if they're not providing vaccine, they're providing the information about vaccine and where to get it.

HUANG: Biden warned that areas of the country where people don't get vaccinated could be in for a tough future.

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BIDEN: And I don't want to see the country that is already too divided become divided in a new way, between places where people live free from fear of COVID and places where when the fall arrives and death and severe illnesses return.

HUANG: Health experts worry that when the weather gets cold and people gather more indoors, the virus will spread quickly among the unvaccinated, which is why the Biden administration is boosting its vaccine outreach now.

Pien Huang, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.