July 30, 2021 -- In a campaign to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, President Joe Biden and the Pentagon have announced new restrictions on unvaccinated federal employees and military personnel.

The federal workforce must show proof of vaccination. If an employee chooses not to get the shot, they’ll have to wear a mask in almost all circumstances, physically distance, have regular testing, and be subject to official travel restrictions. The same restrictions and inconveniences will be applied to federal contractors, Biden said during a Thursday news conference.

“If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated,” he said.

The president stopped short of mandating vaccinations for members of the military, but he asked the Pentagon to study that possibility.

Calling COVID-19 a “threat to national security,” the Department of Defense announced it will act on Biden’s request and consider making the COVID vaccine one of the many vaccines military personnel must take to serve.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will consult with medical professionals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff “to determine how and when to make recommendations to the president with respect to adding the COVID-19 vaccines to the full list of requirements for military personnel,” a statement from the Pentagon said.

Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines to Hesitant CommunitiesWebMD's Chief Medical Officer, John Whyte, MD, speaks with Jerry Abraham, MD, MPH, Director, Vaccine Programs, Kedren Health, South Los Angeles, about delivering COVID-19 vaccines to hesitant communities.470

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JOHN WHYTE: Welcome, everyone.

You're watching Coronavirus

in Context.

I'm Dr. John Whyte, the Chief

Medical Officer at WebMD.

A recent study showed

that for those persons that are

currently unvaccinated,

a very large percentage of them

say that they're not going

to get vaccinated no matter

what.

It doesn't matter what you tell

them.

So what do we do?

Joining me is Dr. Jerry Abraham.

He's the director of the vaccine

program at Kedren Health

in South Los Angeles.

Dr. Abraham, thanks for joining.



JERRY ABRAHAM: Hello.

How are you, Dr. Whyte?



JOHN WHYTE: I'm good.

Now I have to tell viewers

we literally made you stop

driving because you're

in a mobile van

out in the community giving

shots in arms, is that right?



JERRY ABRAHAM: Yeah, that's

really where we are

from those crazy long lines

back in December, January,

February

to now mobile vaccination

programs that are meeting people

where they live,

work, worship, play,

go to school.

We're vaccinating the homebound.

It takes a lot more effort,

but it really does mean

that they put us behind vans.

We take our vaccines out

into the community

and we really,

unlike the early days of vaccine

chasers, we're vaccine hunters

looking for unvaccinated arms

that still need vaccines.



JOHN WHYTE: What's the response

you've been getting?

Because we know in Los Angeles

County, cases are increasing

dramatically.

And it's because of people who

are unvaccinated.

Let's put it out there.

Breakthrough infections

is a small percentage of that.

So what's been the response?

Is it stay out of my business,

I was too busy.

What's going on?

How are you being successful?



JERRY ABRAHAM: Yeah.

Well, first, I'll just say you

said there are some folks that

will never want one.

But we are seeing many anecdotes

and stories around the country

people begging for vaccines

as they're being put

on ventilators, taken to ICUs,

really it's far too late

at that point.

So lots of things

can change people's minds.



We're hoping that the incentives

to help.

We definitely believe

that reminding people

about family members, community

members that we lost,

that suffered,

just really reminding people

how serious a threat COVID-19

infection really is.

The reality of long haulers

and all that we still don't know

about how COVID-19 infection

affects the body, all of that

helps.



There are clearly reasons why

some eager beavers got

vaccinated for 65 and older.

It was a matter of life

and death, and they knew that.

But for the young invincibles,

those that feel that they can

work out and eat healthy

and sleep off COVID-19,

those arguments don't always

work.

So sometimes some

of these incentives work.



But really meeting people where

they are,

answering their questions,

telling them what we know;

the truth, what we don't know.

This is not going to affect

their reproductive organs.

It doesn't affect fertility.

We're not altering your DNA.

You're not going to grow a tail.

And those things really mean

a lot coming from doctors

and clinicians.



JOHN WHYTE: How much time

do you need to spend

with someone.

I'm sure it's just not

as easy as moving your van

around almost like an ice cream

truck.

I have this idea of you

in there.

People aren't just going to come

up and say give me a vaccine,

or is that what you're seeing

and we're not really

understanding what

the challenges are with vaccine

hesitancy?



JERRY ABRAHAM: It really does

feel like an ice cream truck.

The county and la Unified School

District really wants us

to pivot to all childhood

vaccines and helping people

catch up.

These last few 20 months plus

have been hard on people.

People have not been getting

their routine health preventive

maintenance.



And so in addition

to these COVID-19 vaccines,

in addition to COVID testing,

of course, people need

all vaccines.

So it does very much start

to feel like you're pulling up

to an ice cream truck

and ordering off of a menu.

But I do think part of it

is meeting people where they

are, in the housing

developments,

at factories, churches,

at their school,

in their community, that means

a lot.

We hear that all the time.



Doctors must be serious.

You came all the way out here

to find me to get us vaccinated.

I'm going to listen.

I'm going to take you seriously.

You haven't done that

for anything else.

If it wasn't serious,

you wouldn't have come here.

We've really stripped

every barrier that stood

in the way between people

and their vaccines:

no appointment, no internet,

no email, no cell phone.

I don't have transportation.

I can't see, walk, talk.

I don't speak English.

I don't have documentation

status in this country.



None of those reasons

are reasons to not get

vaccinated, and now we're

realizing maybe going

to a clinic and hospital is not

really possible for a lot

of folks.

And we really got to move

the care outside of the four

walls of the traditional health

care delivery model.

And I'm really excited that I

believe that this is really

an important vehicle, literally,

for how we're going to deliver

and revolutionize how we care

for people,

starting with giving

these vaccines out to people.



And it's not olive branch,

it's that conversation.

It's that visibility,

and that really builds trust

especially

in the black and brown community

where we know there are

real fears

about experimentation, where we

know the history is lived

and real.

The Tuskegee syphilis trials,

the abuse of Henrietta Lacks

cells, undertreatment

of black pain

in our communities.



These are real things

that my patients are struggling

with.

So I totally understand where

people might fear,

might not trust, may wonder why

are you all doing this?

Why are you coming after us so

hard?

And we have to tell them

because these are the best tools

that we really have at ending

this pandemic.



JOHN WHYTE: What has surprised

you in your interactions

with people other than the fact

that they see you in a van?

What have they said that you

thought, I hadn't thought

about that?



JERRY ABRAHAM: People are

reading.

People are getting

their information, whether it's

on social media, Instagram,

TikTok, Twitter.

People are waiting

for the emergency use

authorization, for full FDA

approval, for example.

Some people want to wait

a full year.

Some people want their children

to be through puberty.

There's some interesting things,

"I want to have my baby first."

So these are all

real considerations that people

are grappling with.



So I have to remind people,

America's obstetricians

and gynecologists

recommend these vaccines

for people that are going to get

pregnant, that are pregnant,

that are breastfeeding,

that recent studies show there

are no associations

with these vaccines

and affecting people's fertility

or reproductive organs.



We really have to do a lot

of that health literacy patient

engagement,

helping people understand

the science, the facts,

the truth, because they are

asking very important questions,

and they want to wait.

The only problem is we really

don't have any more time to wait

as the Delta variant is

spreading.

We're definitely at the dawn

of this fourth wave

here in LA

and across the country.



And so everybody that's holding

out on getting vaccinated

is just really another host

that this virus can infect,

and that only means that there's

a potential for more variants

down the road.

So I really beg and plead

everyone to please get

vaccinated if you haven't.



JOHN WHYTE: Dr. Jerry Abraham, I

want to thank you for all

that you are doing.

You are literally

on the front lines,

going to people and delivering

them the vaccine.

So thank you for what you are

doing.



JERRY ABRAHAM: Thank you so much

Dr. Whyte.

Real pleasure speaking with you.



JOHN WHYTE: And if you have

questions about the COVID

vaccine, drop us a line.

You can email me

at [email protected] or post

on Instagram, Facebook,

or Twitter.

Thanks for watching.



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John Whyte, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD.<br>Jerry Abraham, MD, MPH, Director, Vaccine Programs, Kedren Health, South Los Angeles./delivery/aws/6e/08/6e084fa8-f47c-3420-bfeb-f2a0974e93b0/Abraham_072721_v4_,4500k,2500k,1000k,750k,400k,.mp407/30/2021 12:00:0018001200Abraham_072721_1800x1200_v4/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/covid19-images/Abraham_072721_1800x1200_v4.jpg091e9c5e82202f43

The new rules will affect more than 4 million federal workers, hundreds of thousands of private contractors, and about 1.5 million people in the military, The New York Times reported. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently required front-line health care workers to get vaccinated, making it the first federal agency to take that step for employees.

Biden’s idea drew pushback from Larry Cosme, the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

"FLEOA fully supports individuals who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated, agree that it is safe and the most effective means of combatting the pandemic, and encourage our members to be vaccinated,” he said in a statement. "However, forcing people to undertake a medical procedure is not the American way and is a clear civil rights violation no matter how proponents may seek to justify it.”

One factor complicating the mandating of vaccines is that the FDA has only granted emergency use authorization -- not full approval -- to the three vaccines being given in the United States. Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full approval, and Johnson & Johnson says it intends to.

Some military leaders have said they fully expect the vaccine to be mandated for military personnel once the FDA grants full approval. About 70% of the military is fully vaccinated, the Pentagon has said.

In other steps to get more people vaccinated, Biden called on private employers to impose restrictions on unvaccinated workers and urged state and local governments to offer $100 to people to get vaccinated. School districts should set up pop-up vaccination tents at schools to get more kids 12 and older vaccinated, Biden said.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

The White House: “Remarks by President Biden Laying Out the Next Steps in Our Effort to Get More Americans Vaccinated and Combat the Spread of the Delta Variant.”

Department of Defense: “Statement by Jamal Brown, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary, on COVID-19 Vaccinations.”

The New York Times: “Biden Seeks to Revive Vaccine Effort With New Rules and Incentives.”

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association: “FLEOA Position: Federal Workforce Vaccine Mandate.”

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