Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra was quoted on Thursday as saying it was “absolutely the government’s business” to know which Americans haven’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Becerra told CNN the government has had to “spend trillions of dollars to try to keep Americans alive during this pandemic” while responding to GOP criticisms of Biden’s planned “door-to-door” campaign to encourage Americans to vaccinate.
“So it is absolutely the government’s business, it is taxpayers’ business if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy,” he said.
HHS’ @XavierBecerra on Biden's controversial door-to-door vaccination program: “The federal government has spent trillions of dollars to keep Americans alive during this pandemic. So it is absolutely the government’s business” to know if you’ve been vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/PiYp0Peogd
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) July 8, 2021
Becerra said people didn’t have to answer the door but he hoped they would so officials could dispel rumors about the vaccine, which has proven to be highly effective in driving down cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Citing concerns over the “Delta variant” of the virus, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week the door-to-door push is designed to inform people in less vaccinated pockets of the country about where to get the shot and address their concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, she said, adding that it’s not up to the federal government to mandate vaccines.
Asked by anchor Brianna Keilar if the administration was considering more aggressive measures to get more people vaccinated, Becerra hedged, saying he wanted people to have “as much freedom and choice as possible.”
“We want to give people the sense that they have the freedom to choose. But we hope they choose to live,” Becerra said. “We hope people make the right choices. We want them to have the right information, but we are America. We try to give people as much freedom and choice as possible, but clearly when over 600,000 Americans have died, the best choice is to get vaccinated.”