White House, MSDH provides no state specific door knocking coordination information.
President Joe Biden made news this week when he said the government needs to go door to door to promote COVID vaccinations as mass vaccination sites wind down while shifting more vaccines to family doctors and local pharmacies.
“We are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites that did so much in the spring to rapidly vaccinate those eager to get their first and second shot,” Biden said on Tuesday. “Now we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes door to door, literally knocking on doors, to help get the remaining people protected from the virus.”
In a rural state like Mississippi, that would be a huge challenge. It is also likely to be met with a healthy dose of suspicion.
Y’all Politics sought comment from the Mississippi Governor’s office related to such a push from the Biden Administration. Governor Tate Reeves’ spokesperson provided a statement, saying the White House’s plans are light on details.
“The vast majority of Mississippians are already aware that if they want a vaccine, they have access to it,” said Bailey Martin with the Governor’s office. “Governor Reeves continues to encourage Mississippians to get vaccinated, but believes in their right to decide what is best for them and their families. President Biden’s plans are light on details and heavy on invading people’s right to privacy.”
Following the President’s comments, the Biden Administration was quick to note that this effort is more about making vaccines more available in local communities, from the workplace to neighborhood pharmacies and through mobile clinics, than it is actual door knocking.
When asked to clarify their position, a White House official told Y’all Politics that in the Month of Action as promoted in June they leveraged grassroots and community voices across the country to make the case for getting vaccinated to their communities.
“A key part of this effort was door to door canvasing which allowed for one on one conversations about the importance of vaccination and encouraging those who are already vaccinated to talk to their friends and family about making the same decision,” the White House said in reply.
Using CDC data, the White House says they targeted areas with low vaccination rates and large “movable” populations, and “knocked on every door there.”
No specifics were given on what that phrase meant in relation to Mississippi.
“We also took into account other considerations, including the CDC’s SVI to ensure we were reaching some of our hardest to reach populations. We saw movement in states where we deployed this tactic, including in Alabama, Florida, Texas and Georgia which had vaccination rates above the national average in the month of June. We plan to continue this work moving forward in the months ahead,” the official said.
According to FoxNews, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was pressed Wednesday aboard Air Force One about the President’s door to door vaccine promotion. Psaki noted that 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 said, as reported by FoxNews.
Further, FoxNews said 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.”
Yet, Psaki’s statement implies such efforts have not been ongoing or lacking in Mississippi. However, state and “local officials” in Mississippi have long been providing information on COVID vaccination availability, locations, and assistance on a consistent basis since the rollout began.
When asked specifically about Mississippi’s vaccination strategy and who was coordinating such additional activities in the Magnolia State with the White House, the Administration officials did not have any immediate data or contacts for publication.
The Mississippi Department of Health says it is not aware of any coordinated door to door effort in the state although their staff continues to provide various options to receive a COVID vaccine that is consistent with the federal focus.
“Some of our COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program partners may be performing door-to-door vaccinations but I am not aware of any particular door-to-door effort,” Director of Health Protection Jim Craig told Y’all Politics. “We are providing vaccinations through enrolled vaccination partner providers, COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program participants, COVID-19 Centers of Excellence, State operated walk-in vaccination clinics, Pop-up vaccination clinics around the state, vaccination of the Homebound, and numerous county health departments. Many of the activities are consistent with focus areas of the White House and the CDC.”
Just this week, MSDH promoted pop-up vaccination sites coming to Louisville, Fulton, Holly Springs, Corinth, Okolona, and Woodland.