Photo of Joe Biden

Remarks on the COVID-19 Response and National Vaccination Efforts and an Exchange With Reporters

June 18, 2021

The President. Good afternoon.

[At this point, the President cleared his throat.]

Excuse me. I'm pleased to announce that today we will have reached the mark of 300 million shots in the arms in just 150 days. Let me say that again: 300 million shots in arms in under 150 days.

Now, it's an important milestone that just didn't happen on its own or by chance. It took the ingenuity of American scientists, the full capacity of American companies, and a whole-of-Government response across Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments. Together, we built an unparalleled vaccination program and managed one of the biggest and most complicated logistical challenges in American history. And above all, we got here because of the American people stepping up and getting vaccinated—helping family, friends, neighbors get vaccinated.

And just remember what the situation was like 150 days ago. We didn't have enough vaccine supply for all Americans. We didn't have the vaccine infrastructure or the people to administer the vaccines or the places where the people could get vaccinated. But we turned it around together by acting quickly and aggressively and equitably.

We secured enough vaccine supply for every American. And as I announced last week during my visit to Europe, we are now in a position to provide more than one-half billion vaccine doses to the rest of the world, the hundred poorest nations.

We've developed and deployed over 9,000 Federal personnel, including 5,100 Active Duty military, to support the vaccine effort and to get shots into arms. And now we have more than 81,000 vaccination sites across the country, including over 42,000 local pharmacies.

Thanks to this wartime response, we've gotten 300 million shots in the arms of Americans in 150 days, months ahead of what most anyone thought was possible when we started. In fact, if you remember, a lot of people were skeptical that we could even get 100 million shots in my first 100 days into people's arms. But we did it. We kept going. And what we're seeing is a truly American accomplishment.

Sixty-five percent—65 percent—of American adults have gotten at least one shot, including 87 percent of our seniors. Just 5 months ago, we were at only 5 percent of adult Americans. Fifteen States and the District of Columbia have now reached at least 70 percent vaccination rate in their State. Twenty-six States and DC have fully vaccinated——

[The President cleared his throat.]

——excuse me—50 percent or more of the adults. Nationwide, we have the lowest number of daily deaths since the first days of the pandemic.

And we've built equity into the heart of our vaccination program from day one. Seventy-three percent of the shots administered at community health centers through the Federal program and more than 58 percent of the shots administered by federally run vaccination sites have gone to people of color. And across the Nation, people of color have accounted for more than half of all vaccinations in the last month. That's important progress, but we have much more to do.

Vice President Harris is, as I speak—is in Atlanta, getting the word out about the vaccinations. Yesterday I signed a bill——

[The President cleared his throat.]

——excuse me—into law making Juneteenth a Federal holiday. And this weekend, folks in communities across the country are going to be canvassing and hosting events to encourage their families, friends, and neighbors to get vaccinated. The more we close the racial gap in vaccination rates, the more lives we'll save.

And as our vaccination program is saying—saving tens of thousands of lives, with that count growing each day, it's also allowing millions of Americans to get back to living their lives: grandparents hugging their kids; kids back to school and getting ready for the summer; people going out to restaurants and traveling; businesses are reopening. Folks, we're heading into a very different summer compared to last year. A bright summer. Prayerfully, a summer of joy.

But as I promised you from the beginning, I will always give it to you straight: the good, the bad, and the truth. And the truth is that deaths and hospitalizations are drastically down in places where people are getting vaccinated. But unfortunately, cases and hospitalizations are not going down in many places in the lower vaccination-rate States. They're actually going up in some places.

A few days ago, we crossed 600,000—600,000—Americans dead from COVID, more than every death in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and 9/11 combined. So even while we're making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat.

And the data is clear: If you are unvaccinated, you're at risk of getting seriously ill or dying or spreading it. People getting seriously ill and being hospitalized due to COVID-19 are those who have not been fully vaccinated. The new variant will leave unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than they are a month ago—over a month ago.

This is a serious concern, especially because of what experts are calling the "Delta" virus—the "Delta" variant. It's a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier, and particularly dangerous for young people. But the good news is, we have the solution. The science and the data are clear: The best way to protect yourself against these variants are to get fully vaccinated.

So, please, please, if you have one shot, get the second shot as soon as you can so you're fully vaccinated. And if you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, get vaccinated now. Now. Don't put it off. It's free. It's easy. It's convenient.

And as I said many times, text your ZIP Code to the numbers 438829—438829—to find the sites where you can get vaccinated closest to you. Get your free Uber or Lyft ride to and from vaccination sites. I want to thank Uber and Lyft for their cooperation.

Use the extended hours at thousands of pharmacies in June, including thousands that are open 24/7 on Friday this month. Most pharmacies now offer walk-in vaccinations. No appointment is needed. Employers with less than 500 employees: The Federal Government is providing you a tax credit to give your workers paid time off to get vaccinated and recover if they need be.

And for anyone who still questions, that's okay—you still have questions. But act—act now. Act now. Talk to your family and friends who've gotten the—gotten vaccinated. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. According to the American Medical Association, over 90 percent of physicians are fully vaccinated. They're making the choice to protect themselves and their communities and their patients. Follow their lead and make the choice for yourself.

As I said, we're heading into, God willing, the summer of joy, a summer of freedom. On July 4, we're going to celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate our independence of our Nation. We want everyone—everyone—to be able to do that.

Let's remember, we are the United States of America. Let's get this done, all of us, together.

God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Catholic bishops?

Q. [Inaudible]

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the Catholic bishops?

Delta Coronavirus Variant

Q. Could the Delta variant force us back into lockdown?

The President. I don't think so, because so many people have already been vaccinated, but with—the Delta variant can cause more people to die in areas where people have not been vaccinated. Where people have gotten the two shots, the Delta variant is highly unlikely to result in anything, other than—I mean, as—the existing vaccines are very effective.

So no, it's not a lockdown, but some areas will be very hurt.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Q. Sir, any comment about—[inaudible]—what the Catholic Bishops have done? Are you concerned about this rift within the Catholic Church? And are you concerned about this action?

The President. Say again?

Q. The Catholic Bishops are moving on this resolution that would prevent you and others who have supported abortion from receiving communion. Are you concerned about the rift in the Catholic Church? And how do you feel personally about that?

The President. That's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen. Thank you.

Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]——

Infrastructure and Jobs Legislation

Q. Mr. President, have you seen the infrastructure plan on Capitol Hill, the bipartisan plan? Do you have any reaction to that?

The President. I'll tell you Monday when I get a copy of it.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:53 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on the COVID-19 Response and National Vaccination Efforts and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/350480

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