US President Joe Biden has pleaded with all Americans eligible for a vaccine shot to get one.
The call asserts in an unusually direct way that the pandemic is now essentially a problem only for those who are refusing to get immunised.
Mr Biden spoke at a pivotal moment in the pandemic, as new cases and deaths are far down from their peak.
However, the emergence of the Delta variant, along with the refusal of large parts of the population to get vaccinated, has prompted a resurgence in some states and fears of a major spike in the autumn.
Speaking to voters in Cincinnati, Ohio, at an event broadcast by CNN, Mr Biden said: “It’s real simple: We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten a vaccination.”
Mr Biden said he expected the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that children under 12 returning to school in the autumn wear masks.
He said the Food and Drug Administration would probably fully approve a vaccine around the beginning of the school year, rather than the current emergency authorisation.
However, he stressed that those were guesses, not edicts.
“I do not tell any scientists what they should do,” Mr Biden said. “I do not interfere.”
The event came amid a surge in coronavirus cases linked to the highly transmissible Delta variant just weeks before the start of the school year.
It also came one day after the White House acknowledged that what are called breakthrough infections have occurred among members of its own fully vaccinated staff.
Asked about vaccine misinformation, which he has said is prevalent on social media platforms such as Facebook, Mr Biden said his administration is trying to counter bad information with solid science.
Without identifying Fox News by name, Mr Biden joked that some network personalities have had “an altar call” about the importance of vaccines, now advocating for them after months of questioning their efficacy.
Although coronavirus cases have begun a rapid climb in recent weeks, the increase has been most pronounced in specific, generally conservative states. Health officials are warning of a pandemic almost entirely confined to those who – by choice or circumstance – have not been vaccinated.
More than 97pc of new hospitalisations connected with the delta variant are among the unvaccinated.
It is uncertain exactly how common “breakthrough” infections are: that is, Covid-19 cases developed by those who have been vaccinated.
Ongoing clinical trials, following tens of thousands of vaccinated people for two years, will help determine that rate, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, in a Senate hearing this week.
But Mr Biden argued that even if a vaccinated person somehow becomes infected, the case is certain to be relatively mild.
With cases rising again, experts are warning that face masks may again be necessary, and the subject is even under discussion at the White House.
Los Angeles County has reimposed a mask mandate, and masks are recommended indoors in eight San Francisco Bay Area jurisdictions. Mask mandates are being discussed in Arkansas and Missouri.
More than 609,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, while reported cases now approach 35 million.
© Washington Post