The president, from the White House, said doctors and scientists, after completing their scientific review, have believed booster shots will provide “top-level protection” against COVID-19.
“Those eligible include those 65 years or older, adults 18 or older with underlying health conditions like diabetes and obesity, and those are increased risk of COVID like health care workers, teachers, and grocery store workers,” Biden said, noting that eligible group covered approximately 60 million Americans.
Biden said scientists and medical officials recommended the third dose of Pfizer vaccine to those who received their second dose six months ago.
“If you got Pfizer in January, February or March this year and are over 65 or have an underlying health condition or are a frontline worker, you can get a booster now,” Biden said.
“I’ll be getting my booster,” Biden said, joking that it is “hard to acknowledge I’m over 65.”
“All kidding aside, I’ll be getting my booster shot as soon as I can get it done,” Biden said.
For those Americans who received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson, the president said “you still have a high degree of protection,” and said doctors and scientists are currently “analyzing data on whether and when you need a booster shot.”
“Again, the bottom line is, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19,” the president said.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky late Thursday endorsed the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine booster shot for younger at-risk workers, which was seen as a rare break from the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel.
The panel had recommended the booster for Americans 65 and older and for those over 50 with underlying medical conditions, but voted against the younger at-risk worker recommendation.
Walensky put it back in, saying it aligns with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration booster authorization from earlier this week.
“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said in a statement. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good.”
The younger at-risk group includes teachers and front-line medical workers.
But Walensky aligned herself with the FDA and the White House, which recommended giving boosters to more Americans.
Meanwhile, Biden, touted the “incredible progress” of vaccinations, with more than 182 million Americans fully vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna or one shot of Johnson & Johnson.
But Biden stressed that this pandemic “is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
“We still have over 70 million Americans who have failed to get a single shot. To make matters worse, we have elected officials actively working, with false information, to undermine the fight against COVID-19,” Biden said. “This is totally unacceptable.”
Biden said the “majority of Americans are doing the right thing,” but said that one quarter of the population is not.
“With a country like ours, that can cause an awful lot of damage, and they are causing a lot of damage,” Biden explained. “The unvaccinated overcrowded our hospitals, overrun our emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for a heart attack or cancer care, because places they can get that care are not available.”
“The unvaccinated also put our economy at risk, causing unease around the kitchen table,” Biden said, noting he “can’t imagine the conversations going on,” and saying that the unvaccinated are “potentially slowing economic growth.”
“Their refusal has cost all of us. The refusal to get vaccinated has cost all of us,” he stressed, adding that he intends to move forward in mandating vaccinations wherever he can.
The president, earlier this month, signed an executive order requiring all federal workers in the executive branch to be vaccinated, as well as another that mandated all private companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations.
“These requirements will cover 2/3 of all workers in America,” Biden said, adding that business leaders have called him and thanked him. “This gives them the ability to move forward.”
Biden, in his final plea, begged unvaccinated Americans to “do the right thing.”
“I understand there is a lot of misinformation being fed out there. Get to people you trust, people who have been vaccinated, ask them, get vaccinated,” Biden said.
“Listen to the voices of the unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds taking their final breaths,” Biden said. “Saying, if only I had gotten vaccinated. If only. If only. Leaving behind husbands and wives, small children and people who adore them.”
“People are dying and will die who don’t have to die,” Biden continued. “It is not hyperbole. It is literally a tragedy. Please don’t let this become your tragedy.”
He added: “Get vaccinated. It can save your life and save the lives around you.”
The president said that the U.S. has made “so much progress” since he has taken office in the fight against COVID-19.
“Now we face a critical moment. We have the tools and we have the plan. We just have to find the job together, as one nation, and I know we can,” he said. “God bless you all, and please, look out for your own self interest and health here.”