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White House Calls Out Critics Of 'Door-To-Door' Vaccine Push

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Susan Walsh
The Florida Channel
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, July 9, 2021.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not mince words, saying the failure to provide accurate information about the vaccine is “literally killing people.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s attempt to block President Joe Biden’s “door-to-door” plan to drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates was met by direct criticism Friday by the White House.

McMaster has said he doesn’t want the federal government sending teams to homes unannounced for the purpose of “enticing, coercing, intimidating, mandating or pressuring anyone to take the vaccine." State leaders in Arizona and Missouri also have pushed back against the strategy.

McMaster sent a letter to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s board asking to ban state and local health groups from “the use of the Biden administration’s ‘targeted’ door-to-door tactics.”

Upon receiving the letter, the department’s director, Dr. Edward Simmer, told the governor’s officethat its “vaccine outreach efforts have not and will not include unsolicited door-to-door visits.”

However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not mince words when asked about McMaster’s actions, saying the failure to provide accurate information about the vaccine is “literally killing people.”

On July 6, after failing to reach his goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the country by the Fourth of July holiday, Biden said, “We need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and often times door-to-door, literally knocking on doors” to get more people vaccinated.

On Friday, Psaki pointed out that the plan did not call for federal employees going door to door, but “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.

“That's exactly what this is. It's something that's been going on since April, and it's something where we've seen an impact in states where there are lower vaccination rates.”

McMaster replied to Psaki in a tweet, writing that “public health information and recommendations coming from … this administration are a lot like the weather in South Carolina. Wait a bit and it will change completely.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.