19:36 GMT24 July 2021
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    The Biden administration's push to combat the dissemination of false COVID-19 vaccine information comes alongside the US' coronavirus vaccine rollout, which has been plagued with delays amid severe winter weather across the country.

    A senior Biden administration official revealed to Reuters Friday that the White House has begun contacting various social media companies to help the US government combat COVID-19 vaccine disinformation.

    “Disinformation that causes vaccine hesitancy is going to be a huge obstacle to getting everyone vaccinated and there are no larger players in that than the social media platforms,” the source said. 

    Facebook and Twitter, which have been cracking down on disinformation after several calls from Capitol Hill, confirmed to Reuters that they were among the companies contacted.

    Google parent company Alphbet Inc. was also named as someone contacted by the White House, but the tech giant has yet to issue a statement on the matter. 

    “We are talking to them ... so they understand the importance of misinformation and disinformation and how they can get rid of it quickly," they added.

    Further details on the matter will be available in the “next ten days or so," according to the source. It's unclear what criteria will be used to survey social media content for possible disinformation.  

    Biden, while touring Pfizer's vaccine manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, on Thursday, delivered a live address in which he thanked plant workers and pushed for more national confidence in the vaccine and its rollout.   

    “The vaccines are safe,” he said, reported WDIV. “Please, for yourself, for your family, your community, this country, take the vaccine when it’s your turn and available. That’s how to beat this pandemic.”

    In addition to general vaccine distrust and skepticism impacting the vaccination program, the recent surge in extreme winter weather has also affected the schedule. 

    Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the Biden administration's COVID response, remarked Friday that companies shipping vaccines, like FedEx and UPS, “have all faced challenges as workers have been snowed in and unable to get to work.”

    An estimated 6 million doses have been backlogged in all 50 states and 2,000 vaccine distribution sites have been unable to receive their vaccines because said facilities are located in areas experiencing power outages. 

    “As weather conditions improve, we are already looking to clear this backlog,” Slavitt said, adding that 1.4 million doses are being shipped on Friday. He said the administration anticipates “all the backlog doses will be delivered in the next week.”

    Slavitt asserted the undelivered vaccines are “sitting safe and sound in our factories and hubs ready to be shipped.”


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