President Joe Biden received his updated COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday while calling on more Americans to do so ahead of the winter and holiday season.
Biden was joined by leaders of major U.S. pharmacy chains Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and Albertsons, as well as Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the president’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.
“We’re here with a simple message: Get vaccinated, update your COVID vaccine,” Biden said. “It’s incredibly effective, but the truth is not enough people are getting it. We’ve got to change that so that we can all have a safe and healthy holiday season.”
“As a country we have a choice to make,” the president said. “Can we repeat what happened in the past winters? More infections, more hospitalizations, more loved ones getting sick, even dying, from the virus. Or are we going to have a much better winter if we use all the tools we have available to us now?”
Last year, the Omicron variant arrived right after Thanksgiving in the United States, causing disruptions for much of the winter. Since then, it has continued to splinter into subvariants. Although the bivalent booster (so named because it protects against both the original strain of the coronavirus and the Omicron variation) cannot be updated to counter every new variant, the Biden administration believes that as long as COVID-19 continues to evolve along the Omicron lineage, the booster will prove effective, with one shot per year sufficient to keep people updated on their coronavirus inoculations.
“If you get it, you’re protected,” the president said on Tuesday.
“Virtually every COVID death in America is preventable — virtually everyone,” Biden said, referencing the widespread availability of Paxlovid, a pill that is highly effective in treating serious COVID-19. When he contracted COVID in July, Biden took Paxlovid and never experienced more than mild symptoms.
“We’ve made the vaccines free and available. We’ve made the tests free and available. We’ve made Paxlovid free and available. Please use them,” Biden pleaded with the American public. “Use them.”