Falling through the gaps: As we’ve written before, paid time off may be one of the best vaccine incentives. But again, Biden’s order only covers larger employers of 100 or more. Gig workers aren’t mentioned in the policy, even though they stand to benefit the most from policies that would offset the loss of hourly income, and they make up a significant and growing proportion of the US workforce. The mandates also won’t help people who are out of work, which adds up to 8.4 million Americans.
Why he’s doing it: Biden has previously bet that incentives like money, food, and beer might help to nudge people to get vaccinated, yet 80 million people still haven’t got their shots. Just 177 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which is just 62.5% of those eligible, and only 52% of the total population. In short, he’s tried the carrot approach—now he’s opting for the stick.
With the US still reporting about 150,000 new cases a day, Biden seems to be placing responsibility for the dire situation on the unvaccinated, and he’s betting that many people in America feel the same way. Addressing unvaccinated people directly, he said: “We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”
Lessons learned: Biden’s plan also includes measures to make it easier for people to find places to get vaccinated. In the initial vaccine roll-out in December, many Americans were confused about available vaccination sites and supplies. But now, when the booster shots are approved, individuals will be able to find a vaccination site at Vaccines.gov, including what vaccines are available at each site and, for many sites, what appointments are open. A toll-free number will also be available in over 150 languages.