Biden tells faith leaders to ‘spread the word’ about vaccine
President Biden on Thursday urged religious leaders to encourage members of their communities to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as they are eligible as the White House battles vaccine hesitancy.
Biden joined a weekly call organized by the White House with more than 1,000 faith and community leaders from across the United States representing various religious and secular organizations. Biden said the local leaders have been “critical partners” for the administration in its COVID-19 response efforts.
Biden called on the group during the Zoom meeting to “spread the word” in their communities about the importance of everyone getting vaccinated when it’s their turn
“Soon they’ll just be able to just line up and just get their name on a list,” Biden said. “And that’s how we’re going to defeat this virus and that’s how we’re going to come together again in our communities, in our houses of worship.”
“What I’m worried about now, what the scientists are telling me, people are getting too cavalier with traveling a great deal, gathering in larger crowds and people aren’t wearing their masks. Aren’t on social distancing. Aren’t washing their hands. And you’ve seen this spike,” he continued.
Biden also noted that he and members of his family may see one another for the Easter holiday this weekend because they have received coronavirus vaccines.
The weekly call is organized by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Office of Public Engagement and includes a bipartisan group of faith and community leaders, according to the White House. Thursday’s virtual meeting is the first occasion on which Biden, a practicing Catholic, has participated in the call.
The White House has tried to enlist local faith leaders in boosting trust in the vaccines and convincing those who are hesitant to receive them to get vaccinated. Biden said last month that local faith leaders and doctors could be more effective in convincing hesitant Republicans in particular to get vaccines when asked if former President Trump should promote it.
“I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say,” Biden told reporters, urging local doctors and priests to talk about why getting the vaccine is important.