President Joe Biden, fully vaccinated, delivered his first address to Congress on Wednesday night in order to discuss the first 100 days of his presidency, announce several new policy initiatives, and call on American to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden detailed the COVID-19 vaccination effort, describing the mobilization of the government to get Americans vaccinated.
“We have gotten vaccines to nearly 40,000 pharmacies and over 700 community health centers where the poorest of the poor can be reached,” Biden stated. “We are setting up community vaccination sites, developing mobile units to get to hard-to-reach communities. Today, 90% of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site. Everyone over the age of 16, everyone is now eligible to get vaccinated right now, right away. Go get vaccinated, America. Go and get the vaccination, they’re available. You are eligible now.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to for people 16 years of age and older. Both vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are under an emergency use authorization for people 18 years of age and older.
The FDA granted emergency authorization to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in December for individuals 16 years or older. The vaccine is part of a two-dose regimen, spaced three weeks apart, and has been shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19. It was the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA.
Biden continued, “When I was sworn in on January 20, less than 1% of the seniors in America were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 100 days later, 70% of seniors in America over 65 are protected. Fully protected. Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80% since January. Down 80% because of all of you. And more than half of all the adults in America have gotten at least one shot.”
As is the norm for many presidential addresses to Congress, President Biden told a story about a citizen. He said, “A mass vaccination center in Glendale, Arizona. I asked a nurse, I said, ‘What’s it like?’ She looked at me and she said, ‘It is like every shot is giving a dose of hope. That was her phrase, ‘a dose of hope.’ A dose of hope for an educator in Florida who has a child suffering from auto immune disease, wrote to me, said she’s worried, she was worried about bringing the virus home.”
“She said she then got vaccinated at a large site in her car. She said she sat in her car when she got vaccinated and just cried. Cried out of joy and cried out of relief. Parents seeing the smiles on their kids’ faces for those who are able to go back to school because the teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers have been vaccinated,” Biden continued.
“Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing hands against the window to say goodbye. It means everything. Those things mean everything,” he said. “You know there’s still — you all know it — you know it better than any group of Americans. There’s still more work to do to beat this virus. We can’t let our guard down.”
“But tonight, I can say because of you, the American people, our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements, logistical achievements this country has ever seen,” Biden said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened its restrictions on mask-wearing this week, stating that those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks while outdoors, unless they are in a crowded area.
However, the CDC maintains its guidance that most fully-vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their final dose — do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who has COVID-19 as long as they are asymptomatic.
As Biden entered the House Chamber, he wore a mask. Members of Congress wore masks and were socially-distanced during the speech. Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wore masks throughout Biden’s speech. President Biden is fully vaccinated, and Harris and Pelosi have both received the COVID-19 vaccine. Many members of Congress have received the vaccination against the virus, as well. They were socially-distanced and wore masks as if they were at risk of spreading the virus, even though the CDC guidance suggests that once someone is vaccinated, they are highly unlikely to be infected with the virus since they are not required to quarantine upon exposure.
Some Americans have reportedly lost interest in receiving the vaccine, possibly due to the fact that their fully vaccinated leaders in government continue to act as if they are at risk.
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