Savannah, Georgia (CNN)First lady Jill Biden is back on the road, heading to parts of the country disenchanted, disaffected and — perhaps — disbelieving of the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines.
Biden has spent several days this summer crisscrossing the southern United States pleading with Americans to get their shots. It remains an open question if they’re listening.
Biden’s trip to Georgia Thursday came four days after the Fourth of July, the self-imposed deadline set by the Biden administration to reach 70% of American adults having received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot — a number missed by several percentage points. Still, the first lady did not see last week’s goal as a stopping point.
“We have to do everything we can do,” Biden said.
In Savannah, Georgia, on Thursday — a state with just 37% of its population fully vaccinated, Biden visited a vaccination clinic at a local high school as part of a push to get students their shots before the start of the school year. When she is there, there are only three people in the school’s cafeteria, which has been turned into a makeshift clinic — the draw of the first lady of the United States not enough to muster even double digits.
Two of them are teenage girls with their mother, one is a middle-aged man who tells the first lady that some of his family members have gotten the shot, but some have not.
“Should I call them?” asks Biden, who doesn’t appear to be joking.
Later, in the school’s gymnasium, Biden tells a crowd of about 200 or so locals that earlier that morning at an exercise class near Washington, DC, the first lady was approached by a woman who told her she had lost four family members to Covid-19.
“She started to cry, telling me this story,” said Biden, who went on to say the woman told her that the deaths inspired her to go out and personally get more than 140 people vaccinated.
“I think that’s what each of us has to do,” she said.
As Biden’s tour across states with higher vaccine hesitancy has gone on — she’s been to Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Missouri and West Virginia in recent weeks — her message has grown increasingly more insistent; it now borders on anger.
“That’s just not enough!” she said in her speech Thursday, when noting the low numbers of vaccinated Georgians.
The trips to the south are part of what the first lady calls the “team effort” to keep pressing Americans who have vaccination malaise to do something to protect themselves and their communities. On her plane Thursday, on the way from Savannah to Orlando — where Biden attended part of the Scripps Spelling Bee finals — the first lady said travel to states where vaccination hesitancy is happening won’t stop just because July Fourth has come and gone, nor because the country ha
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