US 4 former surgeons general join call for 'National Vaccine Day'
Preaching vaccines, bonnet scheme, well water: News from around our 50 states
How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every stateStart the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Four former surgeons general are joining a campaign calling for a National Vaccine Day to "focus our nation's attention on the importance of vaccination."
In a, the doctors call on President Joe Biden to consider enacting the one-time federal holiday, which they say could feature telethons, radio messages and social media posts about the COVID-19 as well as widely available "opportunities for vaccination."
"Americans have endured incredible hardship over the last year. Many of us know someone who has died or fallen gravely ill from COVID-19," Antonia Novello, M.D., Joycelyn Elders, M.D., David Satcher, M.D., PhD, and Richard Carmona, M.D wrote in the letter. "But the advent of safe and effective vaccines provides a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccination has enabled humanity to triumph over terrible diseases like smallpox and measles. We now must launch a publiccampaign to ensure that the same is true for COVID-19."
Churches are becoming COVID-19 vaccination sites for people of color
Faith groups are stepping up to become vaccine sites, particularly in communities of color, which have been disproportionately hard hit by COVID-19."Awesome, awesome," she cheered.
National Vaccine Day was conceived by the advocacy group 1Day Sooner, which approached Carmona, the 17th surgeon general, who served under President George W. Bush. Carmona, in turn, helped enlist his predecessors for support.
“National Vaccine Day will provide a focal point for our nation to come together” he told ABC News, “as we shed COVID exhaustion on the road to recovery.”
The surgeons general say in their letter such a holiday could both encourage the hesitant to get injections and also mark the "heroic" work of scientists and health care workers "who put themselves at great personal risk to protect our country and care for our loved ones."
Vaccine Hesitancy Isn’t Just One Thing
We’re going to need a portfolio of strategies to solve it. Kolina Koltai has been studying online disinformation since 2015, with a special focus on anti-vaccine groups on Facebook. “People come into the space for a variety of reasons,” she said. “At first, it was mostly parents, more women than men, and overwhelmingly white, ranging from stay-at-home moms to people with high levels of education who wanted a naturalistic upbringing for their child.” The group didn’t initially have a political lean.
To Keona Wynne, a PhD student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who is helping lead 1Day Sooner's National Vaccine Day project, "National Vaccine Day would give us a moment to pause and reflect."
It's an ambitious campaign, acknowledged Abie Rohrig, a spokesperson for 1Day Sooner, particularly as the last federal holiday to be enacted was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. But, Rohrig told ABC News, "If there were ever a year that a federal holiday to celebrate vaccination were possible, it's 2021. The positive impact of vaccines has never been so apparent."
The campaign has gathered numerous supporters including actor Kumail Nanjiani, who told ABC News he hopes the day would "normalize" vaccinations.
"I think it'll spread awareness about the various vaccines that have helped us eradicate disease in the past, and that vaccination isn't some scary new thing we're experimenting with. Vaccines have been a part of human life for hundreds of years and will continue to be," he said.
Biden to announce ‘historic partnership’: Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, officials say
The administration brokered the arrangement amid concerns about Johnson & Johnson production delays The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that has not been announced, said they began scouring the country for additional manufacturing capacity after they realized in the first days of the administration that Johnson & Johnson had fallen behind in vaccine production. They soon sought to broker a deal with Merck, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers, which had tried and failed to develop its own coronavirus vaccine.
Areleased last week found at least 55% of Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine or plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible, which marked an increase since January, but a notable percent of Americans still have concerns, with one in five saying they are reluctant.
“There are many reasons for some not wanting to be vaccinated,” Carmona told ABC News. “Some are based on mistrust, others on uncertainty, religious or personal beliefs or various unfounded conspiracy theories that continue to plague the media.”
He wants to get the message out, “The truth is these vaccines are safe and are representative of over a century of vaccine science where arguably vaccines may be the most important scientific advancement in history.”
"There is a lot of intentional vaccine misinformation being spread right now which has led to vaccine hesitancy. But beyond that, I think people are scared because they don't trust the speed and manner in which these vaccines were developed," Nanjiani said, referring to the COVID-19 vaccines.
A national system to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines has largely failed as states rely on their own systems
Operation Warp Speed tried to help states set priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution with Tiberius. Few states use it as designed.Tiberius, which took Star Trek Capt. James T. Kirk's middle name, would allow “granular planning” all the way down to the doctor’s office, provide “a ZIP code-by-ZIP code view of priority populations,” and “ease the burden” on public health officials, the federal government said.
"We basically lucked out and got miracle vaccines -- super high efficacy coupled with very minor and rare side effects. These are fantastic vaccines, and they will help us get out of this pandemic -- but only if people will take them, of course," he added.
John Brownstein, an ABC News contributor, cautioned that the timing of such a day would be crucial as "the current challenge right now is supply" for the COVID vaccines. Therefore, he said, organizers would have to be certain there were more than enough vaccines to be administered as part of a vaccination drive.
But overall, he said, "anything we can do to bring visibility on how vaccines work broadly -- and this one specifically -- is a good thing." He argued that while a lot of resources are put into research and development, similar attention is not always paid to messaging.
"It is the responsibility of Surgeons General to protect, promote, and advance the health of our nation," the former surgeons general wrote in their letter, "and encouraging widespread vaccination is essential to that mission."
Over a third of Republicans don't want to get COVID shots .
Americans' enthusiasm about getting vaccinated has been rising — but not among the "definitely not" Republicans, says Kaiser Family Foundation's Liz Hamel.Gabriel Smithson, a 52-year-old Republican and father of four who lives in Tennessee, doesn't intend to take the vaccine, and his wife, Alice Smithson, won't either. He said that one of his children became sick after getting the flu shot years ago, and that's part of the reason he and his family count themselves among the COVID-19 vaccine skeptics. Smithson, a Trump supporter, is not opposed to all vaccines: he says he trusts those that have been around for longer, like the shot for polio.