‘We are just getting through the holiday season and we have one more thing to be thankful for, which is that we can get kids vaccinated if they’re between the ages of 5 and 11,’ Obama told the crowd of students, teachers and parents at Kimball Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon.
‘Nobody really loves getting a shot. I don’t love getting a shot. But I do it because it’s going to help keep me healthy.’
The leaders aimed to fight the stigma surrounding coronavirus vaccines, and turned up to see kids getting their second shot of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, which is now available to children aged five and up.
‘[The vaccinations] are really going to protect you. We know that from a lot of data, and a lot of experience we have,’ Fauci told the rally.
‘It’s also going to help keep schools open because the more kids are vaccinated, the less likely that we’re going to have a COVID outbreak in the schools. And that means our kids have a chance to learn together and socialize — you know, do all the things that you’re supposed to be doing when you’re 5 or 6 or 7 or 11.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci and former President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to a Washington D.C. elementary school to aid in COVID vaccination efforts
The leaders aimed to fight the stigma surrounding coronavirus vaccines by encouraging families to get the jab as the Omicron variant begins to spread worldwide
The rally came as the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has started spreading worldwide, leaving many Americans questioning if their current vaccinations will be sufficient to keep them safe.
Fauci, addressing these concerns, encouraged families to voice their vaccination concerns to a trusted medical professional.
Obama echoed his sentiment: ‘I think it’s really important for everyone to be informed and to talk to an informed health-care professional.
‘Talk to your family doctor. Talk to your pediatrician and get the information you need to make an informed decision.’
However, critics note that the pair were preaching to an already converted crowd.
Most of the attendees at Tuesday’s rally had come to the school on their own accord to vaccinate their children, the Washington Post reported. Some were even receiving their second doses.
Obama told families to speak with their doctors id they have any concerns about the shots: ‘I think it’s really important for everyone to be informed and to talk to an informed health-care professional. Talk to your family doctor. Talk to your pediatrician and get the information you need to make an informed decision.’
Fauci also reminded families the COVID shots are going to protect kids and keep schools open
He warned against making Fauci ‘untouchable’ in an interview with Fox & Friends, claiming it would throttle debate outside of the doctor’s own ‘edicts and mandates.’
Republican lawmakers have been blasting Fauci this week over an interview he gave to CBS on Sunday during which he dismissed GOP criticism of him and his work as lies and opposition to science.
The scientist also claimed Republicans are using him as a ‘scapegoat’ to shield from anger at Donald Trump.
‘It’s sort of a way of ending all debate because if you attack him or have any debate over any of his edicts or his mandates, you’re attacking science,’ Paul said on Tuesday.
‘But this is a very, very dangerous sort of idea. The idea that a government bureaucrat represents science and that he is now untouchable – that it is sort of like you are now contradicting the all high priest of science, if you say anything.’
The physician-turned-senator accused Fauci of ‘deflecting’ when confronted about his scientific beliefs.
‘But there are real questions and there’s real areas of science that he’s never really debated because he deflects. And the thing is, there’s never been a debate because he’s the all-powerful scientist. You’re not to question him, just do as you’re told,’ he said.
Rand Paul mocked Fauci by comparing him to the Wizard of Oz and claiming he shuts down debate in a blistering Fox News interview on Tuesday morning
Paul then mocked Fauci by comparing him to the Wizard of Oz.
‘Dr. Fauci says he is the all-powerful Oz, and we shouldn’t question him. That’s a real problem in a free country,’ he said.
Fauci and Paul frequently clash when brought face-to-face at Congressional hearings. Paul often criticizes Fauci during television and radio appearances.
Paul was one of two Republican senators Fauci criticized by name during his sit down with news anchor Margaret Brennan.
‘My job has been totally focused on doing what I can with the talents and the influence I had to make scientific advances to protect the health of the American public,’ Fauci had said when asked about the criticism and threats his public role in the pandemic got him.
‘So anybody who spins lies and threatens and all that theater that goes on with some of the investigations and the congressional committees and the Rand Paul’s and all that other nonsense, that’s noise.’
The other GOP lawmaker name-checked during the interview was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who at a recent hearing told Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Fauci over allegedly lying to Congress.
GOP lawmakers have been going after Fauci over a Sunday interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation during which he said their criticism of his work is ‘anti-science’
‘I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on Jan. 6, senator?’ Fauci replied during his Sunday interview.
Cruz and Paul along with colleagues like Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas have been releasing a steady stream of attacks in response.
‘Considering Tony Fauci was caught lying to Congress, he should be a bit more humble,’ Cotton wrote on Twitter the evening of Fauci’s interview.
Cruz’s latest retaliation was on Monday night, when he branded Fauci ‘the most dangerous bureaucrat in American history’ and suggested the COVID tsar could end up in prison.
Cruz told Sean Hannity: ‘I’ve got to say, Dr. Fauci, I think, is the most dangerous bureaucrat in the history of the country. He talked about hurting science but I don’t think anyone has hurt science or hurt the credibility of doctors more than Dr. Fauci because throughout this pandemic, he has been dishonest, he’s been political, he’s been partisan.’
Senator Ted Cruz hit back at Anthony Fauci again on Fox News Monday night, blasting his ego and saying he could face five years in jail for allegedly lying to Congress
Fauci has been accused of being ego-crazed because of the amount of TV interviews he undertakes, with his most recent CBS News appearance Sunday also seeing him blast Cruz and suggest the lawmaker was linked to the January 6 riots.
Referring to that interview, Cruz continued: ‘(Fauci) said, I represent science. I am science. I was laughing. It’s like Louis XIV, the sun king in France saying ‘I am the state.’ It is this delusion of grandeur.’
Louis XIV ruled France between 1643 and 1715, and was given the insulting nickname because he believed the Kingdom of France revolved around him.
Cruz also highlighted what he claims was a breach of a US law – 18USC, Code 1001 – made by Fauci when he told a Senate hearing in May that the National Institutes of Health, of which he serves as a director, did not fund ‘gain of function’ research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab that COVID may have leaked from.
But in October, the National Institutes of Health admitted it had funded gain of function research, which seeks to make viruses more potent to try and find treatments for them.
Cruz said: ‘The statement from Dr. Fauci and the NIH are directly contradictory. I think (CBS interviewer) Margaret Brennan is a talented journalist, but she dropped the ball in not following up and letting him just respond with insult instead of asking the simple question.
‘You stated that we don’t fund gain-of-function research, the NIH stated that we do fund gain-of-function research. They can’t both be true. And if you lie to Congress, it’s a felony.
‘She didn’t press him on that.
‘And listen, at the end of the day, 18 USC Code 1001 makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison for lying to congress. The statement from Dr. Fauci and the NIH are directly contradictory.’
Paul has also clashed with Fauci during multiple Senate showdowns about COVID.
And he took aim at the doctor over the CBS interview Sunday, tweeting: ‘The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science.
‘It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity.’
Meanwhile, Biden said Monday he is making an effort to eliminate all roadblocks as officials battle Omicron.
While the president claims health expert don’t expect a new vaccine will be necessary to combat the variant, he will fast track that process if it becomes needed.
‘Dr. Fauci believes that the current vaccines provide at least some protection against the new variant and that boosters strengthen that protection significantly,’ Biden said.
‘I will also direct the FDA and the CDC to use the fastest process available without cutting any corners for safety to get such vaccines approved and on the market if needed.
He added: ‘Look, I’m sparing no effort at removing roadblocks to keep the American people safe.’
Biden also encouraged eligible Americans to get vaccinated and receive their booster shots.
The CDC also called on all Americans aged 18 and up to get their booster Monday, having previously advised that only adults aged 50 and up should receive their booster injection.
‘You have to get your vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster,’ Biden added.
‘Sooner or later we’re going to see new cases of this variant here in the United States.’
The omicron variant of COVID has yet to be detected in the United States. It is also unclear how much of a threat it will pose
The new variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein. The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognize the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body’s immune system struggles to recognize it and fight it off
Omicron, which was first identified in South Africa but is thought to have originated in Botswana, is the most-mutated form of the coronavirus yet found.
The new variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein.
The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognize the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But, the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body’s immune system struggles to recognize it and fight it off.
The new variant was first detected last week and most cases are concentrated in South Africa, where daily infections soared to 6,048 on Saturday, a 20-fold increase on the 306 positive tests registered two weeks earlier.
Biden continued: ‘The best protection against this new variant or any of the of the various ones out there … is getting fully vaccinated. As additional protection, please wear your masks indoors in public settings around other people.’
Currently, Americans ages 18+ are eligible to get a booster jab six months after having received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Those who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson shot can also get their booster two months after their initial dose.