Photo of Joe Biden

Remarks on COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots and an Exchange With Reporters

September 27, 2021

The President. Hello, everybody. How are you doing? [Laughter] Did you ever think you'd be seeing your press coming to watch someone get a shot in the old days? Me either. [Laughter]

Anyway, like I did in my first and second COVID-19 vaccination shot, I'm about to get my booster shot and do it publicly. That's because the Food and Drug Administration—the FDA—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the CDC—looked at all the data, completed their review, and determined that boosters for the Pfizer vaccine—others will come later, maybe, I assume—but the Pfizer vaccine are safe and effective. They have all the data they need.

And last week, they laid out who is eligible for those boosters for now. You're eligible for a booster if it's been 6 months since your second Pfizer shot and if you fall into one of these categories: people over 65, which is hard to acknowledge; adults—I'm only joking, folks—adults with certain underlying health conditions like diabetes and obesity; and those who are at increased risk of COVID-19 because of where you work or where you live, like health care workers, teachers, first responders, grocery store clerks.

If you fall under these categories, you're eligible for the booster. Now, I know it doesn't look like it, but I am over 65—I wish I—[laughter]—way over. And that's why I'm getting my booster shot today.

The booster line is, if you're fully vaccinated—the bottom line is that if you're fully vaccinated and—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.

But let me be clear: Boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated. The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Over 77 percent of adults have gotten at least one shot. About 23 percent haven't gotten any shots, and that distinct minority is causing an awful lot of us—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 requirements wherever I can. On Wednesday, I'll be traveling to Chicago to talk about why it's so important that more businesses are instituting their own vaccine requirements.

We know that to beat this pandemic and to save lives, to keep our children safe, our schools open, our economy going, we need to get folks vaccinated. So, please—please—do the right thing. Please get the shots. And it can save your life. It can save the lives of those around you. And it's easy, accessible, and it's free.

So text your ZIP Code to 438829—that's 438829—or visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccination location near you. We can do this. Get vaccinated.

Thank you very much. Now, I'm going to get my booster shot and—right here. And the major is going to give me the shot.

The President's Reaction to the Coronavirus Vaccine

Q. Did you have any side effects with the second shot, Mr. President?

The President. No, I haven't any side effects the first or second shot, thank goodness. I don't anticipate one now, but we'll see.

Is that high enough for you?

White House Medical Unit nurse. Yes

The First Lady's COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot

Q. Is the First Lady getting hers as well today, Mr. President?

The President. She's going to get one. Not that—I think she's teaching. She—but she's going to get one. Yes.

U.S. Global Distribution of Coronavirus Vaccines

Q. Mr. President, what do you say to the world health leaders, like the World Health Organization, who say wealthy nations should help more countries without vaccinations to get vaccinated before they get boosters here in America?

The President. We are helping—we are doing more than every other nation in the world combined. We're going to have well over 1,100,000,000 shots, and we're going to continue going. We're going to do our part. We've also given a great deal of funding to COVAX, which is the vehicle that does this.

[At this point, the President received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.]

So we have plenty, plenty of opportunities to make sure we get everyone in the world—to play our part—the largest part in the world of getting everyone vaccinated.

National Vaccination Efforts

Q. How many Americans need to be vaccinated for us to go back to normal? Like, what is the percentage of total vaccinations that have to be deployed?

The President. Well, I think—look, I think we get the vast majority—like is going on in so many—some industries and some schools—96, 97, 98 percent. I think we're getting awful close. And—but I'm not the scientist.

I think—but one thing for certain: A quarter of the country can't go unvaccinated and us not continue to have a problem.

Q. Mr. President——

Budget Reconciliation Process

Q. Any progress on a reconciliation deal today, Mr. President? How close do you think you are?

The President. You know me, I'm a born optimist. I think things are going to go well. I think we're going to get it done. And—but I have meetings tonight, tomorrow, and for the next little bit.

The President's Legislative Agenda

Q. So what is at stake——

Q. Mr. President, how do you define——

Q. What is at stake for your agenda and your Presidency with what's happening on the Hill this week?

The President. Victory is what's at stake.

The President's Legislative Agenda

Q. Mr. President, how would you define "success" this week, legislatively?

Q. [Inaudible]—sir?

Q. How would you define "success," legislatively, by the end of this week?

The President. Well, it may not be by the end of the week. I hope it's by the end of the week. But as long as we're still alive, the longer—we've got three things to do: the debt ceiling, the continuing resolution, and the two pieces of legislation. If we do that, the country is going to be in great shape.

Thank you very much.

Q. What's your message to Democrats, as you have these calls? What's your message to Democrats, Mr. President?

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:08 p.m. in the South Court Auditorium of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/352733

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