Remarks on the COVID-19 Response and National Vaccination Efforts
Today we've hit another milestone—a key milestone—in our Nation's fight against COVID. The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, announced that it's fully concluded its—its now—its thorough and independent scientific review. After a strict process, the FDA has reaffirmed its findings that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and the FDA has given its full and final approval.
So let me say this loudly and clearly: If you have—if you're one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot when it's—until it has full and final approval of the FDA, it has now happened. The moment you've been waiting for is here, and it's time for you to go get your vaccination and get it today. Today. It's an important moment in our fight against the pandemic.
You know, I want to thank the Acting Commissioner, Janet Woodcock, and the entire team at the FDA for their hard work. Dr. Woodcock is a true professional. She's a career scientist who served under Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents. She's ensured that the team followed the science above all.
They've looked at the mountains of clinical data—clinical trial data and the safety and efficiency [efficacy]* data and concluded, without question, the vaccine was safe and effective for emergency use in December. That same thing—we've got those shots in arms at the time: 350 million in the United States and billions across the world. They kept pouring over this data. The FDA approval is the gold standard.
And as I just said, now it has been granted. Those who have been waiting for full approval should go get your shot now. Vaccination is free. It's easy, it's safe, and it's effective. And it's convenient. For 90 percent of Americans, there's a vaccination site less than 5 miles from your home, and you can get the shot without an appointment. So please, get your shot today. There is no time to waste.
The Delta variant is dangerous and spreading, causing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's the pandemic of the vaccinated. And while we're starting to see initial signs that cases may be declining in a few places, nationwide, cases are still rising, especially among the unvaccinated.
Across the country, virtually all of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated. That's worse in States where vaccination rates are overall low. But even in States where many people are vaccinated, the unvaccinated are still at risk.
Let me be clear: There are cases where vaccinated people do get COVID-19, but they are far less common than unvaccinated people getting COVID-19. And most importantly, their conditions are far less severe. The overwhelming majority of people in the hospital who have COVID-19 are—almost all of those dying from COVID-19 are not vaccinated. Not vaccinated. If you're fully vaccinated—both shots, plus 2 weeks—your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very, very, very low.
Now, I know that parents are concerned about COVID-19 cases among their children. I'll be addressing this soon with Secretary Cardona to discuss how to get our kids back to school safely. Cases among children are still rare, and severe cases among children are very, very rare. But I know that parents are thinking about their own kids, and it's not as reassuring as anyone would like it to be.
So let me say this as parents—to the parents: As you have—you have the tools. You have the tools to keep your child safer, and two of those tools, above all, are available to you. One, make sure that everyone around your child, who can be vaccinated, is vaccinated: parents, adults, teens. Two, make sure your child is masked when they leave home. That's how we can best keep our kids safe.
As I've said before, the pandemic of the unvaccinated is a tragedy that is preventable. People are dying, and will die, who don't have to. So please, please, if you haven't gotten your vaccination—if you haven't gotten vaccinated, do it now. It could save your life and the lives of those you love.
Now, the good news is that people are getting vaccinated. For the past several weeks, my administration has imposed new vaccine requirements on Federal workers, the Armed Forces, people who work in Federal medical facilities, and nursing home workers. Governors, mayors, and private sector leaders have done the same.
We've also encouraged new incentives. For example, in some States, you get $100 if you get vaccinated. These new requirements and incentives are accelerating vaccinations once again, giving us the hope that we can put this Delta variant behind us in the weeks ahead.
There are three facts everyone should know about where we are in this fight against this pandemic. First, even as the Delta variant has ravaged the unvaccinated, the deaths have climbed—and deaths have climbed, the death rate is still 70-percent lower than what it was last winter. Why? Because we did such a good job vaccinating those most at risk: senior citizens. America has about 54 million senior citizens. About 50 million have at least have gotten at least one shot. That's almost 92 percent.
Secondly, overall, weekly new vaccinations are up more than 56 percent from where they were a month ago. Last week, we saw a record of vaccinations, more than 1 million shots a day for 3 straight days. This is the first time this has happened since June. Six million shots in the last 7 days, the highest 7-day total in over a month and a half
Remember—remember when we were trying to get 70 percent of the people over 18 at least one shot? Well, we've not only gotten that done; we've gotten 71 percent of everyone age 12 and older their first shot. That's over 200 million Americans. And over 170 million are now fully vaccinated.
Third, States that had been lagging are seeing their vaccination rates grow faster. In fact, in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, more people got new vaccinations in the past month than in the prior 2 months combined. The progress we're making on vaccinations now is going to produce results in the weeks ahead. The sooner you get fully vaccinated, the sooner you'll be protected.
According to the experts from the Yale School of Public Health, the pace of our vaccination effort has saved over 100,000 lives and have prevented more than 450,000 hospitalizations. This is critical progress, but we need to move faster.
As I mentioned before, I've imposed vaccination requirements that will reach millions of Americans. Today I'm calling on more countries—more companies, I should say, in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people. If you're a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a State or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that—require it. Do what I did last month and require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.
And as I said last week, vaccination requirements have been around for decades. Students, health care professionals, our troops are typically required to receive vaccination to prevent everything from polio to smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella.
In fact, the reason most people in America don't worry about polio, smallpox, measles, mumps, and rubella today is because of vaccines. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19.
With today's FDA full approval, there's another good reason to get vaccinated. So please get vaccinated now. If you go to vaccines.com [vaccines.gov]*—vaccines.com [vaccines.gov]*—or text your ZIP Code to 438829—438829—you can find a number of vaccine sites near you, just minutes away, where you can get your shot without an appointment.
All around the world, people want these vaccines. Here in America, they're free, convenient, and waiting for you. So please go today—for yourself, for your loved ones, for your neighbors, for your country.
I'll close with this: We're in the midst of a wartime effort to beat this pandemic. It's one of the biggest and most complicated challenges in our history. And it's based on an unparalleled vaccination program that is saving lives and beating this virus. It's a vaccination program that's getting us back to our loved ones and a way of life we were used to. It's happening, and it's going to keep happening if you help—it helps our economy. It gets everything moving. It keeps us growing.
Together, we've made significant progress in just 7 months. We just have to finish the job with science, facts, and confidence, together—together—as the United States of America. So, please get vaccinated today.
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 1:57 p.m. in the South Court Auditorium of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
* White House correction.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on the COVID-19 Response and National Vaccination Efforts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/352479