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One-on-One: White House Vaccinations Coordinator Bechara Choucair discusses ‘Month of Action’ vaccination initiative

Vice President Kamala Harris to visit the South as part of the effort
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - President Joe Biden announced a new month-long COVID-19 vaccination campaign called “Month of Action” and southern states will get a visit from Vice President Kamala Harris because of it.

FOX 8 spoke one-on-one with Dr. Bechara Choucair, who is White House Vaccinations Coordinator.

“We vaccinated in this country, more than 160 million people have gotten at least one shot and we still have a long way to go,” said Choucair.

Choucair commented after President Joe Biden went on national television to announce the national “Month of Action” initiative. It is designed to mobilize a massive effort to get 70% of U.S. adults at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine by July 4th.

Southern states are lagging some other states in terms of vaccination rates.

“There are a lot of people in Louisiana who got vaccinated and I am so excited for them, they are protected. They can pretty much do everything they’d want to do, and they will be safe. The reality is those who are unvaccinated continue to be at risk and that’s why the call today is to make sure that if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, take a moment, get vaccinated,” Choucair stated.

The new months-long outreach includes many incentives for people to get vaccinated including free childcare.

“Well, we know that for a lot of people who want to get vaccinated childcare continues to be a challenge and that’s why we’ve partnered with four childcare companies that are going to be offering free childcare so that parents or caregivers could have someone watching their kids for free while they are going to get vaccinated,” said Choucair.

In some states, including Louisiana the number of African Americans who have been vaccinated trails the number of whites who received the shots.

FOX 8′s Sabrina Wilson asked Choucair if the initiative will address the disparity in vaccination rates among blacks and whites.

“Well, Sabrina, from day one equity was at the center of our vaccination campaign. That’s why we started programs to make sure that vaccines are available at community health centers, there are pop-up clinics. We’re partnering with faith-based organizations,” Choucair said.

And as part of the new campaign, vaccinations will be given at black-owned beauty salons and barbershops and written information about the coronavirus vaccines will also be available at such establishments.

Byron Powell, Jr., owns NOLA Cuts Up Barber and Salon.

“I think it’s very good for people to actually be given information because a lot of people are still more or less in the dark about those situations. So, as much information as possible is always better,” he said.

Powell said he is willing to have vaccine information provided in his business.

“Yes, I wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as it’s beneficial for the people,” he said.

And Choucair said having Vice President Harris travel to South is an important part of the initiative.

“She is going to be going on a tour across the Midwest and the South to encourage vaccination and check in on vaccination sites across those states and we’re really excited about that and hopefully folks will get in, get vaccinated and get a chance to see the vice president,” he said.

Thousands of pharmacies will also extend their hours this month to accommodate people wanting vaccines.

“We’re extending hours at pharmacies because we know for some people who work maybe two shifts or have two jobs they want to come and get vaccinated at different times, so many pharmacies now will be open on Fridays 24/7,” said Choucair.

Some of the other incentives include a COVID-19 College Challenge that involves colleges and universities taking a pledge and committing to taking action to get their students vaccinated, and major corporations are involved as well. Anheuser Busch will give away free beer to all adults over 21 on July 4th to celebrate the nation’s progress against COVID-19.

Go to www.Vaccines.gov/incentives.html for a list of incentives to be vaccinated.

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