President Biden listens on a tour of a Microsoft data center that’s under construction in Elk Grove Village, Ill., on Thursday. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Despite a backlash from Republicans, President Biden is touting vaccine requirements as a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting a construction site here on Thursday where workers are being prodded to get the shot before they can wield a drill or swing a hammer.

The president’s focus is a reflection of his administration’s conclusion that forceful pressure — from either the federal government or private employers — is proving more effective than persuasion with the tens of millions of Americans who remain unwilling to be vaccinated.

“There is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of Americans vaccinated,” Biden said as he toured a data center under construction. “It’s as simple as that.”

He added that “vaccination requirements are tough medicine” but emphasized that “they’re game-changing for our country,” saving people’s lives and paving the way for a stronger economic recovery.

Biden conceded that he didn’t want to push mandates, saying “that wasn’t my first instinct.” However, simply making enough vaccines available and sharing information about their safety and effectiveness didn’t result in enough people getting their shots.

More than 700,000 Americans have died in the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more perishing this year than last, thanks to the spread of…

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