Biden heads to North Carolina to tout vaccines as U.S. injections slow

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U.S. President Biden travels to North Carolina from Maryland
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to board Air Force One for travel to North Carolina from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

June 24, 2021

By Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden heads to North Carolina on Thursday to encourage people to get their COVID-19 vaccinations as the rate of inoculations slows despite a nationwide effort to get shots in arms to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The White House acknowledged this week that it would not meet a self-imposed deadline to get 70% of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, noting that those aged 18 to 26 have been especially reluctant to get the shots.

The presidential visit comes as the more contagious Delta variant of the virus is taking hold across the globe and emerging as the biggest obstacle to stopping COVID-19 within U.S. borders, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said earlier this week.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have reached Biden’s goal, but the country as a whole and several other states continue to lag, including North Carolina.

Only 55% of the southern state’s adult population has had at least one shot despite a slew of incentives, including a $1 million lottery, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

(See a graphic on U.S. infection and vaccinations rates here

Biden plans to visit the Green Road Community Center in Northeast Raleigh, where he will see a mobile vaccination unit and meet with workers and volunteers.

The trip to North Carolina, Biden’s first since he took office in January, is one of a series of COVID-related events on Thursday, including a press call by Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to highlight private sector efforts targeting young people.

First Lady Jill Biden and Fauci are in Florida to visit vaccine sites, including a drive-through site and one at a hockey arena.

Vice President Kamala Harris will host a virtual meeting with community groups.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Heather Timmons and Sonya Hepinstall)