I've told Mark Zuckerberg directly that when we gather groups of people who are not vaccinated and we ask them, why aren't you vaccinated, and they tell us things that are wrong, tell us things that are untrue, and we ask them where they've heard that, the most common answer is Facebook. — Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff
I've told Mark Zuckerberg directly that when we gather groups of people who are not vaccinated and we ask them, why aren't you vaccinated, and they tell us things that are wrong, tell us things that are untrue, and we ask them where they've heard that, the most common answer is Facebook. — Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff
White House prepares to fight back in the Covid vaccine disinformation war
Officials are wary of taking steps that could alienate Republicans further and generate more skepticism of vaccines that health experts uniformly say is safe. And Biden has acknowledged openly that neither he nor his administration is the best positioned to convince Republicans to get the shot, pointing instead to local physicians, pharmacists or clergy members as more trusted messengers.

A senior administration official said a decision had been made to take a harder edge against the disinformation, with plans in the coming days to call out Republican elected officials and specific social media platforms.

"We are seeing the impact of the disinformation," a senior administration official said, who acknowledged the difficult balance the West Wing was trying to strike by injecting the President into the fray.

Yet the White House is watching with concern as geographic gaps begin opening between places with higher vaccination rates and those where relatively few people have received shots. For Biden and his aides, reality is setting in that getting the entire country vaccinated will be the work of his entire presidency -- and that pockets of the nation where vaccination rates remain low will continue to suffer outbreaks that hamper the nationwide recovery effort.

Highly politicized and rife with misinformation, the debate over vaccines presents an enduring challenge for Biden even as he heralds the overall trajectory of the pandemic.

,,, The divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated has begun to break along political lines, with Democratic-leaning areas ahead of Republican ones in vaccination rates. Officials attribute part of the reason for the discrepancies to messages repeated in conservative media that question why people need the vaccine and that Biden's attempts to get the country vaccinated amount to government overreach.

Already, some of Biden's aides have begun taking a more assertive stance against Republicans who question the President's efforts to deliver vaccines to every American. Federal health officials -- including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert who has been vilified in conservative media -- have consistently insisted the vaccine be removed from politics.

Speaking in Detroit on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris encouraged a crowd of health workers to rebut falsehoods that have been spread about the vaccine.

"We got to get the facts out, because sadly there's a lot of misinformation," Harris said in her remarks on Monday. "So, let's know what it is, and let's talk to our neighbors and our friends and say, 'Here, let me tell you about the facts.'"

... "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," press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, responding to criticism from Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster over Biden's efforts to get more Americans shots.

It's not just voices on conservative outlets. The White House is also wrestling with how to combat vaccine misinformation on large social media platforms. In May, Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, confronted Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg about vaccine misconceptions he said stemmed from "postings on Facebook."

"I've told Mark Zuckerberg directly that when we gather groups of people who are not vaccinated and we ask them, why aren't you vaccinated, and they tell us things that are wrong, tell us things that are untrue, and we ask them where they've heard that, the most common answer is Facebook," Klain told The New York Times.

... Administration officials have been quick to tamp down on talk of federal vaccine mandates, suggesting it isn't within their purview to require Americans to receive the shots. And over previous months, they have declined to engage with more extreme Republican lawmakers — including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — who have espoused falsehoods about the vaccine.


Now that vaccination rates have slowed, however, officials said the damaging effects of that kind of rhetoric had become clearer. Even the stark current reality being highlighted by officials — that nearly all hospitalizations and deaths are now among the unvaccinated — may not be enough to convince those who have already decided against it.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/14/politics/white-house-covid-disinformation-fight/index.html