During an appearance on CNN Thursday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said that it is “absolutely the government’s business” to know the vaccination status of Americans.
His comments were made in response to the host’s reading of a tweet by Republican Representative Andy Biggs, who wrote that the government should not survey the population and be privy to know who is and who is not inoculated.
Biggs and other Republican lawmakers’ criticisms came after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a recent press briefing that the Biden administration might resort to “knocking on doors” to pressure those who have abstained from vaccination to receive the shot. The administration, confronting a missed vaccination goal to get 70% of adults vaccinated by the Fourth of July, has been getting innovative with strategies and incentives to persuade the hesitant, especially young adults, of the vaccine’s merits.
Becerra offered that the massive government-incurred cost of managing COVID and the subsequent economic crisis justifies keeping tabs on which citizens have been vaccinated.
“The federal government has spent trillions of dollars to keep Americans alive during this pandemic, so it is absolutely the government’s business, it is taxpayer’s business if we have to keep trying to spend money to keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy,” he noted.
“It is our business to make sure Americans can prosper, freely associate, and knocking on the door has never been against the law. You don’t have to answer, but we hope you do so we can help dispel some of those rumors that you’ve heard and hopefully get you vaccinated,” Becerra added.
As vaccination rates decline nationwide, some journalists and public officials have advocated for government vaccine requirements.
When the host asked him about that proposal, Becerra answered, “The president has demonstrated that he is open to moving in any direction we can to help Americans get safe, feel safe. We’ll continue to provide Americans access. We’re gonna go where you are, so you can get vaccinated.”
He concluded by saying that the federal government’s deference to federalism, by allowing state governments to determine the best methods for encouraging vaccination in their respective states, has worked well so far.