While President Joe Biden’s White House may be hitting back against critics of its door-to-door vaccination push, at least a few GOP governors have made moves to ban such efforts in their state — most notably South Carolina’s Henry McMaster.
In a letter Friday to the board of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, McMaster asked for it to provide direction “prohibiting the use of the Biden Administration’s ‘targeted’ ‘door to door’ tactics in the State’s ongoing vaccination efforts.”
“Earlier this week, President Biden announced plans for the federal government to ‘send people door to door….to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,’” McMaster wrote. “Biden Administration officials have publicly described their plans as ‘targeted community door-to-door outreach.’”
However, he noted that due to the DHEC’s work with “state and local healthcare organizations – South Carolinians have been provided access to all available information about the vaccine as well as access to the vaccine itself.
“A South Carolinian’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government’s. Enticing, coercing, intimidating, mandating, or pressuring anyone to take the vaccine is a bad policy which will deteriorate the public’s trust and confidence in the State’s vaccination efforts,” the letter continued.
“The prospect of government vaccination teams showing up unannounced or unrequested at the door of ‘targeted’ homeowners or on their property will further deteriorate the public’s trust and could lead to potentially disastrous public safety consequences.”
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Dr. Edward Simmer responded later in the day, noting that the state’s vaccination efforts “have not and will not include unsolicited door-to-door visits.”
Simmer added that the department “continues to strongly encourage all eligible South Carolinians to get fully vaccinated.”
“South Carolina and national data show that those who continue to become hospitalized and die from COVID-19 are those who are not fully vaccinated,” he continued, noting “getting vaccinated is a personal choice.”
McMaster was one of the first two GOP governors to indicate they wouldn’t allow the door-to-door effort, announced by the White House last week.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced he’d also be nipping the push in the bud.
“I have directed our health department to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!” he tweeted Thursday.
I have directed our health department to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) July 8, 2021
However, it was McMaster — a vocal Biden critic — who the administration decided to turn the brunt of its fire upon, arguing that the governor and his ilk were “literally killing people.”
“The failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference Friday. “So maybe they should consider that.”
Psaki: The failure to provide accurate public health information including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country including South Carolina is literally killing people so maybe they should consider that… pic.twitter.com/tXdwNurZaP
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 9, 2021
McMaster responded that maybe South Carolinians — and the rest of America — should consider something else.
“Unfortunately, @PressSec [Jen Psaki], we have seen that public health information and recommendations coming from Dr. Fauci and this administration are a lot like the weather in South Carolina,” he responded. “Wait a bit and it will change completely.”
Unfortunately, @PressSec, we have seen that public health information and recommendations coming from Dr. Fauci and this administration are a lot like the weather in South Carolina. Wait a bit and it will change completely. https://t.co/zJ10shcuGy
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) July 9, 2021
As if to prove McMaster’s point before he made it, the information coming from the administration on the vaccine push already has changed a great deal.
Last Tuesday, when he announced the plan, Biden said this, according to a White House transcript: “Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”
It wasn’t clear from context who was doing the knocking, but one could make a reasonable assumption those people had some kind of relationship with the government. However, White House officials characterized this as disinformation or misinformation when Psaki finally clarified Friday that these would be volunteers or individuals with non-governmental organizations — although presumably, they’d be working in concert with the government.
“This is not federal employees going door to door,” Psaki said during her news conference, according to WIS-TV. “This is grassroots volunteers. This is members of the clergy. These are volunteers who believe that people across the country, especially in low vaccinated areas, should have accurate information.”
And this didn’t stop White House officials from lashing out at anyone who had an issue with door-to-door vaccination as if they were doing the bidding of InfoWars:
“So I would say for those individuals, organizations that are feeding misinformation and trying to mischaracterize this type of trusted messenger work, I believe you are doing a disservice to the country and to the doctors, the faith leaders, the community leaders and others who are working to get people vaccinated, to save lives and help to end this pandemic,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Thursday, according to the Post and Courier.
Except the White House hadn’t entirely clarified this was “trusted messenger work” as of Thursday. These “trusted messenger” workers were acting on behalf of the government, and the one thing that was clear to everyone in opposition to the plan — including McMaster — is that money and resources were going into deputizing those fuzzy, harmless trusted messengers to act as Amway salesmen for vaccination.
As McMaster said, anyone’s “decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government.”
You don’t need to be anti-vaccine to believe that. This pro-vaccination writer agrees wholeheartedly — and he’s aghast that we have an administration that doesn’t realize how divisive, invasive and counterproductive this proposed initiative is.
If the White House can’t save itself from its own ill-considered policies, one hopes more governors like McMaster will step in and do the job for them.