In this May 6, 2021 photo, George Ripley, 72, of Washington, holds up his free beer after receiving the J & J COVID-19 vaccine shot, at The REACH at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Free beer is the latest White House-backed incentive for Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19. President Joe Biden is expected to announce a “month of action” on Wednesday to get more shots into arms before the July 4 holiday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In this May 6, 2021 photo, George Ripley, 72, of Washington, holds up his free beer after receiving the J & J COVID-19 vaccine shot, at The REACH at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Free beer is the latest White House-backed incentive for Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19. President Joe Biden is expected to announce a “month of action” on Wednesday to get more shots into arms before the July 4 holiday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Free beer, other new incentives for Biden’s ‘vaccine sprint’

U.S. president on push to get more Americans vaccinated as pace falls off

Dangling everything from sports tickets to a free beer, President Joe Biden is looking for that extra something — anything — that will get people to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 shots when the promise of a life-saving vaccine by itself hasn’t been enough.

Biden on Wednesday announced a “month of action” to urge more Americans to get vaccinated before the July 4 holiday, including an early summer sprint of incentives and a slew of new steps to ease barriers and make getting shots more appealing to those who haven’t received them. He is closing in on his goal of getting 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day — essential to his aim of returning the nation to something approaching a pre-pandemic sense of normalcy this summer.

“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in the fight against this virus,” Biden said from the White House. He predicted that with more vaccinations, America will soon experience “a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebrations. An All-American summer.”

The Biden administration views June as “a critical month in our path to normal,” Courtney Rowe, the director of strategic communications and engagement for the White House COVID-19 response team, told the AP.

Biden’s plan will continue to use public and private-sector partnerships, mirroring the “whole of government” effort he deployed to make vaccines more widely available after he took office. The president said he was “pulling out all the stops” to drive up the vaccination rate.

Among those efforts is a promotional giveaway announced Wednesday by Anheuser-Busch, saying it will “buy Americans 21+ a round of beer” once Biden’s 70% goal is met.

“Get a shot and have a beer,” Biden said, advertising the promotion even though he himself refrains from drinking alcohol.

Additionally, the White House is partnering with early childhood centers such as KinderCare, Learning Care Group, Bright Horizons and more than 500 YMCAs to provide free childcare coverage for Americans looking for shots or needing assistance while recovering from side effects.

The administration is also launching a new partnership to bring vaccine education and even doses to more than a thousand Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons, building on a successful pilot program in Maryland.

They’re the latest vaccine sweeteners, building on other incentives like cash giveaways, sports tickets and paid leave, to keep up the pace of vaccinations.

“The fact remains that despite all the progress, those who are unvaccinated still remain at risk of getting seriously ill or dying or spreading the disease to others,” said Rowe.

Aiming to make injections even more convenient, Biden is announcing that many pharmacies are extending their hours this month — and thousands will remain open overnight on Fridays. The White House is also stepping up its efforts to help employers run on-site vaccination clinics.

Biden will also announce that he is assigning Vice President Kamala Harris to lead a “We Can Do This” vaccination tour to encourage shots. It will include first lady Jill Biden, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and Cabinet officials. Harris’ travel will be focused on the South, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country, while other officials will travel to areas of the Midwest with below average rates.

To date 62.8% of the adult U.S. population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 133.6 million are fully vaccinated. The rate of new vaccinations has slowed to an average below 600,000 per day, down from more than 800,000 when incentives like lotteries were announced, and down from a peak of nearly 2 million per day in early April when demand for shots was much higher.

The lengths to which the U.S. is resorting to convince Americans to take a shot stands in contrast to much of the world, where vaccines are far less plentiful. Facing a mounting U.S. surplus, the Biden administration is planning to begin sharing 80 million doses with the world this month.

“All over the world people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighborhood drugstore,” Biden said.

Thanks to the vaccinations, the rate of cases and deaths in the U.S. are at their lowest since the beginning of the pandemic last March, averaging under 16,000 new cases and under 400 deaths per day.

As part of the effort to drive Americans to get shots, the White House is borrowing some tools from political campaigns, including phone banks, door-knocking and texting. The administration says more than 1,000 such events will be held this weekend alone. Additionally, it is organizing competitions between cities and colleges to drive up vaccination rates.

Other new incentives include a $2 million commitment from DoorDash to provide gift cards to community health centers to be used to drive people to get vaccinated. CVS launched a sweepstakes with prizes including free cruises and Super Bowl tickets. Major League Baseball will host on-site vaccine clinics and ticket giveaways at games. And Kroger will give $1 million to a vaccinated person each week this month and dozens of people free groceries for the year.

The fine print on the Anheuser-Busch promotion reveals the benefits to the sponsoring company, which will collect consumer data and photos through its website to register for the $5 giveaway. The company says it will hand out credits to however many people qualify.

—Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

RELATED: 184 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Tuesday, fewest in 6 months

RELATED: Biden orders more intel investigation of COVID-19 origin

CoronavirusUSAvaccines

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Some examples of ‘kindness’ rocks that were painted by members of the Boys and Girls Club in Rimbey. photo submitted
The ‘kindness rock snake’ continues to take shape in Rimbey

Residents are asked to contribute a ‘kindness rock’ to a project near the Blindman Youth Action Building

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read