‘America is back’: President Biden gives July 4th message, encourages vaccines

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FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo President-elect Joe Biden smiles as he speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. President-elect Biden turns 78 on Friday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — President Joe Biden is delivering a message to Americans on his first Fourth of July in office — and the first since the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

Along with a video highlighting vaccinated people across the nation, Biden tweeted: “This Fourth of July, America is back. We’re headed into a summer of joy – of freedom – thanks to the millions of Americans who stepped up to get vaccinated. To the frontline and essential workers who have made this day possible: thank you.”

In the video, several Americans explain how getting vaccinated has benefitted their lives: namely being able to visit loved ones and experience milestone moments.

“Being vaccinated, I can walk at my college graduation,” says one woman. “I was able to marry the girl of my dreams,” says one man.

Despite his message of optimism and hope, the administration missed its July 4 goal of vaccinating 70% of adults, in addition to only delivering fewer than 24 million doses to other countries, well-shy of the 80 million-dose goal.

In June, the White House addressed the issue, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying the administration doesn’t view the numbers as a failure because Americans are much better off than they were since the goal was announced.

Among reasons for declining demand for vaccines is, interestingly, declining COVID-19 infection rates. Officials say low numbers of cases and deaths has resulted in many Americans feeling less motivated to get their shot.

But political reasons are also a key factor in vaccine hesitance, skepticism and rejection.

“The hesitation among younger Americans and among Trump voters has been too hard to overcome,” GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who’s worked with the White House and outside groups to promote vaccinations said in June. “They think they are making a statement by refusing to be vaccinated. For Trump voters, it’s a political statement. For younger adults, it’s about telling the world that they are immune.”

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that 99.2% of current COVID-19-related deaths were people who were unvaccinated. The doctor explained several reasons for lagging vaccination rates, including “ideological” opposition and people who are “fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science.”

Nationally, there have been over 605,000 COVID-19 deaths — more than any other country.

Despite the continued fight against COVID-19 and its variants, the White House highlighted hope when it shared the same video as Biden on Sunday morning. The caption reads: “Today, Americans are #BackTogether – celebrating our country’s July 4th Independence Day and the progress we have made against the virus together. Happy Fourth of July, America.”

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