President Biden made a plea to unvaccinated Americans on Friday, urging them to “do the right thing” and get a shot to protect themselves against COVID-19, hours after the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defied a vote from her advisory panel, which had recommended not to roll out booster shots to younger frontline workers.
The president, from the White House, said some Americans’ refusals to get vaccinated “has cost all of us.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a third booster shot of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID vaccine for eligible individuals. The CDC this week announced eligible individuals included those who received their second dose of the vaccine six months ago, those over the age of 65, those over the age of 18 with an underlying health condition – and frontline workers at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their profession.
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.”
This is a developing story; check back for updates.