Xavier Becerra, the head of Health and Human Services (HHS), says that it is “absolutely the government’s business” to know who has and has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, Fox News reported.
Becerra let the comment slip on Thursday during a CNN appearance. He argued that if the U.S. government uses taxpayer money to pay for something, then the government and the taxpayer have a right to know who has and who has not been vaccinated.
“So it is absolutely the government’s business, it is taxpayers’ business, if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy,” Becerra said.
After having missed its July 4 vaccination goal, the Biden administration revealed this week that it will implement a five-pronged approach that included President Joe Biden’s highly controversial idea of a “door-to-door” effort.
“Now, we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes door to door, literally knocking on doors, to get help for the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said, as Fox News noted.
Similar language was used earlier on Wednesday by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. She referred to the proposed effort as a “targeted community door-to-door outreach” to “get remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring that they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is.”
The idea of Biden’s government knocking on one’s door in order to convince Americans to get vaccinated drew heavy criticism. Many argued that it’s not the government’s business to know who’s vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated.
It was that particular line of criticism that Bacerra was responding to in his statement this week.
“The sense” of freedom
Becerra seemingly dug himself a deeper hole on Thursday by saying, “We want to give people the sense that they have the freedom to choose.” Many took that as an obvious signal that they eventually might not, in fact, have the freedom to choose.
“We hope people make the right choices,” Becerra said. “We want them to have the right information, but we are America. We try to give people as much freedom and choice as possible, but clearly, when over 600,000 Americans have died, the best choice is to get vaccinated.”
Throughout the entire segment, Becerra was teetering on a fine line between Americans being free to choose and Americans being coerced — or even forced — by the government to get vaccinated.
Following the interview, he attempted to clear the air by writing on Twitter: “Some comments I made today are being taken wildly out of context. To be clear: government has no database tracking who is vaccinated. We’re encouraging people to step up to protect themselves, others by getting vaccinated. It’s the best way to save lives and end this pandemic.”