UNITED STATES: In an effort to address flagging jab rates amid virus surges, US President Joe Biden has called for states to offer $100 as an incentive to the newly vaccinated.
The president also issued a strict new vaccine requirement for U.S. federal workers, the nation’s largest workforce of around two million people.
The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking.
Speaking from the White House on Thursday, Biden said that the new measures are a result of the highly contagious Delta variant’s spread, made worse by a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
“People are dying and will die who don’t have to die,” the president said.
Biden asserted that the monetary incentive may seem unfair to already vaccinated Americans, but “we all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated”.
Biden said that the federal government will be “fully reimbursing” small or medium-sized businesses that provide workers paid time off to get vaccinated.
The stance by the White House aims to set an example for employers nationwide, at the same time government workers who refuse to get vaccinated shall not be fired.
But public health experts warn that weekly testing is not an effective way of containing the outbreaks.
The Democratic president also addressed theories, spreading mostly in conservative circles, that the jabs are unsafe. He highlighted that there “is nothing political” about the vaccines, which were developed and authorised under a Republican administration and further distributed under his.
Last month, a survey said that over 99% of Covid-19 deaths have been among the unvaccinated.
From the latest data of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – Nearly 70% of adults have received at least one jab. But vaccination rates are varied across the country. Southern and western regions, which are now experiencing Covid outbreaks, have comparatively lower rates.
Virus-related deaths have reached around 2,000 per week. With a record of about 60,000 cases per day, new cases are now at their highest point in the last three months.