- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2022

President Biden will try to jumpstart the COVID-19 booster campaign Tuesday by rolling up his sleeve on camera for his pre-winter shot and prodding Americans to get their own at pharmacies and special clinics across the country.

Mr. Biden will deliver a White House speech on the effort alongside bigwigs from large pharmacy chains and top health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institutes of Health.

The president will call on every school district, college and university in America to host at least one vaccination clinic by Thanksgiving. He will also push employers to offer paid time off for vaccination or worksite booster clinics.

Mr. Biden hopes uptake of the reformulated boosters will keep dominant variants in check and stave off the disease around the holidays.

“While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it was when the President took office, the virus continues to evolve. COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory illnesses spread more quickly in the winter, as people gather indoors. As the weather gets colder, Americans must take action to stay protected,” the White House said Tuesday in a fact sheet.

The White House on Wednesday will launch a VaxUpAmerica Family Vaccine Tour in which administration officials will encourage whole families to get their shots together at community sites and pop-up clinics.

It is also launching a series of ads around the new boosters, including:

• Ads will target Black and Latino audiences in more than 30 markets in English and Spanish.

• Football and country music-themed radio ads will be aimed at reaching rural communities in 15 local markets.

• Print, radio, digital and social ads will run in 25 markets to reach Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander audiences in seven languages.  

• Social and digital ads will run on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and Reddit.

Drugmakers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recently retooled the COVID-19 vaccines for the first time in the pandemic. The new shots target both the original strain of the virus discovered in China and the BA.4 and BA.5 variants that are circulating in the U.S. right now. Scientists think an updated booster might be an annual rite moving forward, akin to the flu shot that is designed to match circulating strains.

The U.S. is recording under 40,000 cases per day, though many positive tests aren’t reported, and hospitalizations are at a relatively low average of 26,000 per day but could spike again as temperatures cool.

Some persons have resisted the vaccines out of fear of side effects or complaints the shots do not prevent transmission outright, though Mr. Biden plans to highlight them as a bulwark against serious illness. He will also point to antiviral treatments for persons who still get sick.

“For most Americans, if they get this updated COVID-19 vaccine, they can go about their lives this fall and winter with the peace of mind that they remain protected against serious illness,” the White House said. “And, if they do get sick, there are widely available and easily accessible treatments that reduce the severity of illness, keep people out of the hospital, and save lives.”

Federal data show a little more than 20 million of the retooled boosters have been administered so far in a country of about 330 million people, though some people may be waiting for later in the year.

The CDC recently expanded use of the new booster to younger groups, including the Pfizer shot for ages 5 and older and the Moderna shots for 6 and up.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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