The Democratic National Committee and other White House allies want wireless carriers to scrutinize phone and social media messages for alleged misinformation about the Biden administration’s push to vaccinate more Americans against the coronavirus, Politico reported Monday.
According to the outlet, the White House is pushing back harder against critics of its messaging after failing to reach the goal of having 70 percent of American adults receive at least one vaccine dose by July 4.
Part of that effort, Politico reported, is “planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS [Short Message Service] carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines”.
One SMS message cited by the outlet, sent by Turning Point USA and co-founder Charlie Kirk, read: “Biden is sending goons DOOR-TO-DOOR to make you take a Covid-19 vaccine. Sign the petition to: No medical raids in America.”
“We are steadfastly committed to keeping politics out of the effort to get every American vaccinated so that we can save lives and help our economy further recover,” White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz told the outlet. “When we see deliberate efforts to spread misinformation, we view that as an impediment to the country’s public health and will not shy away from calling that out.”
The latest flashpoint in the messaging battle is President Biden’s announcement last week that “we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door-to-door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”
Republican lawmakers expressed outrage at the prospect. On Friday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told state health officials to prohibit unsolicited door-to-door vaccination efforts, arguing it would “further deteriorate the public’s trust and could lead to potentially disastrous public safety consequences.”
That drew a rebuke from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said Friday that “the failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people, so maybe they should consider that.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) suggested during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over the weekend that the “mechanisms” used by the Biden administration to encourage vaccination could be used to “go door to door and take your guns. They could go door to door and take your Bibles.”
The White House has sought to emphasize that those involved in the outreach effort are not federal employees, but rather are, in Psaki’s words, “grassroots volunteers.”
“This is members of the clergy, these are volunteers who believe that people across the country, especially in low-vaccinated areas, should have accurate information, should have information about where they can get vaccinated, where they can save their own lives and their neighbors’ lives and their family members’ lives,” she said Friday.
Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci carried that message onto the Sunday talk shows and took a swipe at what he described as “ideological rigidity” of anti-vaxxers.
“There’s no reason not to get vaccinated,” Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union”. “Why are we having red states and places in the South that are very highly ideological in one way not wanting to get vaccinations? Vaccinations have nothing to do with politics. It’s a public health issue. It doesn’t matter who you are. The virus doesn’t know whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or an independent. For sure, we know that.
“And yet there is that divide of people wanting to get vaccinated and not wanting to get vaccinated, which is really unfortunate, because it’s losing lives.”
As of late Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 67.7 percent of American adults (nearly 174.8 million people) had received at least one vaccine dose and 159.5 million Americans (48 percent of the total population) were considered fully vaccinated.
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