Biden Gets Covid Booster and Says He Wants More Vaccine Mandates
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden received a booster shot Monday of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine in front of cameras at the White House and said he’ll press for more vaccination mandates to improve the U.S. inoculation rate.
Biden, 78, meets guidelines issued last week by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that those over age 65 get a third vaccination.
“If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected now from severe illness even if you get Covid-19. You’re safe and we’re going to do everything we can to keep it that way with the boosters,” he said before getting his shot. “The most important thing we can do is to get more Americans vaccinated.”
Americans who have refused to be vaccinated, he said, are causing “an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s why I’m moving forward with vaccination mandates wherever I can.”
The president received his first shot in December and his second in January, putting him well past the six-month threshold for receiving a third shot. As he rolled up his sleeve for his third shot, he told reporters he hadn’t experienced any side effects from the previous injections.
Biden is touting booster shots for Americans even as many countries struggle to get enough supplies to provide initial doses. Some public-health advocates say vaccines should be shipped to countries without adequate supply before the U.S. gives third shots.
The U.S. lags well behind many other countries in the percentage of its population that’s been fully vaccinated, as millions of Americans -- particularly political conservatives -- continue to resist getting shots.
Just over 55% of the U.S. is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The United Kingdom is at 67% fully vaccinated and Canada is at 70.6%, while Portugal, at 83.7%, has the highest percentage of the fully vaccinated among countries with populations of more than 1 million.
Biden had suggested in August that he hoped every American who was fully vaccinated would be able to get a booster dose several months after their previous shots. But the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered narrower recommendations last week.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky approved boosters last week for people over 65 and those 18 to 64 with underlying conditions. She overruled an advisory panel to approve boosters for 18- to 64-year-olds who face high risks of exposure in their workplaces.
Even with boosters authorized for millions of Americans, there’s disagreement among U.S. health officials about whether they’re necessary. Some studies have suggested that the efficacy of the initial two-shot regimen of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine wanes over time, particularly for the elderly, and that it’s not as effective against the delta variant as earlier strains.
Boosters of the Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson vaccines haven’t yet been authorized by U.S. regulators.
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