US dangles haircuts and beer to boost Covid vaccination rate

US President Joe Biden says barbershops and beer makers are joining a push to get 70 percent of adults with at least one Covid shot

Drink a beer, sit back for a haircut -- and get your Covid-19 vaccination.

That was President Joe Biden's message Wednesday in launching a huge final push to inoculate 70 percent of the US adult population by the national holiday of July 4th.

"That's right: get a shot, have a beer," President Joe Biden said in a speech announcing the campaign to meet his Independence Day target.

The White House has recruited everything from big brewers like Anheuser-Busch to small Black-owned barber shops to spearhead the effort.

"We're asking the American people for help," Biden said.

"It's going to take everyone…, so we can declare independence from Covid-19 and free ourselves from the grip it has held over our life for the better part of a year."

Biden said the country is on the cusp of achieving the 70 percent goal.

Currently, 63 percent of adults have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. Twelve states have crossed 70 percent and more are expected to get there this week, Biden said.

Just over half of adults have been fully vaccinated, leading to a plunge in the toll from the virus, which has killed nearly 600,000 Americans.

Biden said daily cases are below 20,000 for first time since March 2020 and death rates are down more than 85 percent.

However, after an initial rush to get shots, the Biden administration is having to come up with ever more unusual ideas to lure the reluctant no-shows.

Universities are joining the crusade while some states are offering lotteries with prizes as big as $1 million. In West Virginia, firearms and pick-up trucks are on the prize list.

"We're making it even easier to get vaccinated, which we've seen is the key to increasing numbers and getting more shots in arms," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

That means free rides to vaccination centers from Uber and Lyft, national child care providers watching over children while parents receive injections, and pharmacies staying open 24 hours on Fridays.

With the Black community behind in the vaccination rates, the White House has put special emphasis on barbershops and salons, which often double as African American social hubs. They will "offer information to customers, booking appointments or even using their own businesses as vaccination sites," Biden said.

Baseball games and NASCAR races will also team up with health authorities.

However, with famed donut chain Krispy Kreme likewise joining the national effort, Psaki warned Americans against perhaps enjoying their vaccination perks a little too much.

"I would not recommend a Krispy Kreme with a beer, but I would leave that to other people to decide," she told reporters.

sms/dw