Your brother is dying. I want you to come visit, and I want you to be vaccinated.
Until she heard the urgent plea from her sister-in-law, Anne Block, 72, had been unmoved by appeals from friends and family to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She had always trusted her strong constitution and preferred getting sick to getting the shot — but the message from her family shook her.
“I had to respect her request,” said Block, a tour operator in Los Angeles. Her decision to get the Johnson & Johnson shot made her one of millions of once-skeptical Americans who changed their minds about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Like swing voters in an election, those who have yet to be vaccinated will determine the outcome of the United States’ vaccination campaign, including how quickly the spread of the virus will stall and to what extent the disease will calcify into a long-term threat.
President Biden is pushing to get a first dose to 70% of Americans by July 4. That ambitious goal may be out of reach in many parts of the country but could still be attainable in California, where nearly 50% of the population has received at least one dose, vaccine skepticism is lower and the effects of the pandemic have reached further into everyday life.
Moving the needle another 20 percentage points in the Golden State will be significantly harder, experts say — but it may still be possible with the right combination of incentives and rationale, which will intensify as vaccine appointments plateau.