White House defends door-to-door vaccination push amid backlash

Biden pushes door-to-door vaccination campaign after missing July 4 goal

Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor at The Federalist, questions the necessity of the campaign after achieving a high rate of vaccinations among vulnerable populations.

The White House Wednesday sought to clarify its new door-to-door coronavirus vaccine push amid fresh criticism from the right that the home visit approach is government overreach. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed Wednesday that no one from the federal government will be showing up at Americans’ doors mandating coronavirus vaccinations. Rather, the personal visits President Biden announced Tuesday are designed to share information on vaccinations as the White House aims to still reach its Fourth of July goal of having 70% of the adult population jabbed. 

“What we’re trying to do here at the federal government is protect the American people and save lives,” Psaki told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday.

The door-to-door push is designed to inform people in less vaccinated pockets of the country about where to get the shot and address their concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, she said, adding that it’s not up to the federal government to mandate vaccines.

“It’s up to every individual to decide whether they’re going to get vaccinated,” Psaki continued. 

Amid the administration’s ongoing concerns of a surge of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, Biden pitched his plan to boost the vaccinated population during remarks he made on Tuesday. 

“Now we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and often times door-to-door – literally knocking on doors – to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said.

Psaki also referred to the “door-to-door” effort while listing the five objectives of Biden’s COVID response earlier in the day at Tuesday’s briefing, citing “targeted community door-to-door outreach” to “get remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring that they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is.” 

Critics were quick to slam the new initiative on social media, including several GOP lawmakers. 

“How about don’t knock on my door. You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, reacted to the president.

“The government now wants to go door-to-door to convince you to get an ‘optional’ vaccine,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., warned. 

Even controversial GOP Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made another Nazi comparison in opposing Biden’s vaccine push – weeks after she visited the Holocaust Museum and apologized for previously comparing mask requirements to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

On Tuesday, she likened Biden’s door-knocking effort to “medical brown shirts,” sparking quick backlash from Jewish groups about the Nazi-era reference. 

Psaki Wednesday dismissed Greene’s comments, saying “we don’t take any of our health and medical advice from Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

Later Wednesday, aboard Air Force One, Psaki was asked again by a reporter about the conservative backlash and whether that will undercut the White House’s overall goal of addressing vaccine hesitancy, including among the GOP.

“Let me tell you what this is and what it is not,” Psaki responded by again pointing out the federal government is not mandating vaccines. “What this effort is is a continuation of what we have seen as an impactful effort that we’ve had by local public health officials and volunteers in a range of communities over the last month of action.”

Psaki cited positive outreach in states like Florida, Mississippi and other pockets of the country with lower vaccination rates. She said local officials are just providing information on where people can get access to a vaccine, how it’s free and that they can take time off of work to get the shot.  

She defended the personal outreach and said the White House will continue that approach. 

“We’re going to continue to deploy the tactics that we’ve seen effective over the last few months,” Psaki told reporters. 

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report. 

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