Jen Psaki had the perfect response to a GOP governor's attacks on Biden's vaccination campaign

Jen Psaki had the perfect response to a GOP governor's attacks on Biden's vaccination campaign
Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions from members of the press Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)

This week, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster accused President Joe Biden of being heavy-handed in his efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccination — saying that he opposed Biden's idea of people going door to door to offer information on vaccines. But when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke during a news conference on Friday, she forcefully pushed back against McMaster's claim that Biden is trying to bully Americans into getting vaccinated.

In a letter to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, McMaster wrote, "A South Carolinian's decision to get vaccinated is a personal one for them to make and not the government's. Enticing, coercing, intimidating, mandating, or pressuring anyone to take the vaccine is a bad policy which will deteriorate the public's trust and confidence in the state's vaccination efforts."

McMaster, in his letter, called for a statewide prohibition of the door-to-door method that Biden is recommending. And Psaki, during the news conference, told reporters that there is nothing heavy-handed about Biden's methods — stressing that the president is trying to save lives, not bully anyone.

Psaki explained, "The failure to provide accurate health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them, to people across the country — including South Carolina — is literally killing people. So, maybe they should consider that. But I would say that what this is and what it is not — this is not federal employees going door to door. This is grass roots volunteers; this is members of the clergy. These are volunteers who believe that people across the country, especially in low-vaccinated areas, should have accurate information — should have information about where they can get vaccinated, where they can save their own lives and their neighbor's lives and their family member's lives."

In South Carolina, only 49% of residents have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. Nationally, according to NPR, the number is 67% — although some blue states are higher than that. For example, Massachusetts, a blue state with a moderate Republican governor (Charlie Baker), has a 70% vaccination rate, NPR reports.

The White House press secretary went on to say that in areas with low vaccination rates, door-to-door efforts have had a positive effect.

"It is something that we will continue to work with local groups to do," Psaki told reporters. "And it is a disservice to the country and to the people who may lose their lives, who may lose family members, to provide inaccurate disinformation at a moment where we're still fighting a pandemic.

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