US President Joe Biden on Tuesday, gave blunt counsel to the one in four adults in the United States who have not yet had the coronavirus vaccine: the new Omicron type can make you very sick or perhaps kill you.
After his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, downplayed the severity of the coronavirus as mortality rose, Biden, a Democrat, began office in January promising to bring it under control.
Biden’s approach to the situation has changed since then.
To confront Republican politicians, conservative commentators, and other opponents of immunisation laws and masking guidelines, the White House has enlisted breweries and sports teams, churches, and local mayors.
He appealed to the unvaccinated in a televised statement on Tuesday, saying, “Your choice can be the difference between life and death.”
The United States has one of the lowest vaccination rates among developed countries, with 62% of the population completely vaccinated, and deaths per capita are concentrated in states with poor vaccination rates, many of them in the South.
In June, the White House joined with brewer Anheuser Busch to provide free beer to Americans if 70% of people had one immunisation injection by the July 4th Independence Day celebration.
“To bring us across the finish line, we need everyone throughout the country to work together,” Biden remarked at the time. “I promise you, we can do this.”
In late July, the US Treasury enabled state and local governments to use COVID-19 relief funds to pay $100 to newly vaccinated people.
“I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who have gotten vaccinated already,” Biden said. “But here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them.”
In August, Biden addressed Republican opposition to mask mandates in Texas and Florida without identifying names.
“Some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, and they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it,” he said. “I say to these governors … if you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way.”
On Sept. 10, Biden shifted from incentive to stick, announcing new immunisation requirements for federal contractors, medical employees, and large corporations. The White House said that gentle outreach and bipartisan meetings were ineffective.
While the laws have been challenged in court, they have pushed immunisation rates in the large US government workforce past 96 percent.
After Republican governors such as Texas’ Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis pledged to oppose the September restrictions, Biden accused them of weakening the public health response in mid-September.
“This is the worst type of politics … and I refuse to give in to it,” Biden said.
Unvaccinated Americans fear a winter of “serious sickness and death” from the fast-spreading Omicron variety, according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and subsequently Biden himself.
Despite criticism that the dismal message was unlikely to persuade anyone who had not been inoculated to be vaccinated, the White House stood firm.
On Twitter, Chief of Staff Ron Klain declared, “The truth is the truth.”