The president on Monday held a press conference to celebrate the FDA’s final approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
But even as he delivered good news, he angered some with his advice.
‘So let me say this to parents. You have the tools. You have the tools to keep your child safer. And two of those tools above all are available to you,’ he said.
‘One: make sure 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.’
Children in Miami are pictured on Monday wearing face masks as they return to school. Miami-Dade County has defied Governor Ron DeSantis’s orders, and insisted that schoolchildren wear face masks. Biden on Monday said all children should, when leaving the house
Joe Biden on Monday said that children should wear face masks when leaving the house
Biden said that he was aware that ‘parents are concerned about COVID-19 cases among their children’, and said that he and Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, are discussing ‘how to get our kids back to school safely.’
He continued: ‘Cases among children are still rare. And severe cases among children are very, very rare.
‘I know that for parents thinking about their own kids, it’s not as reassuring as anyone would like it to be.’
The president also urged American companies to begin ordering staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Major companies like Amtrak, Walt Disney and Walmart have already required their workers to be immunized and the Pentagon have said they will mandate all troops.
But Biden’s calls for all companies to make their requirements stricter is likely to face calls of federal government overreach and legal challenges.
A mobile billboard truck displays messages for the Orange County Public Schools board during a protest in favor of masks, in front of the OCPS headquarters in downtown Orlando on Monday
Winston Wallace, 9, raises his hand in class at iPrep Academy on the first day of school in Miami on Monday
Students at Barbara Coleman Senior High School in Miami walk to the campus on their first day of school on Monday
States including Florida and Texas have already fought back against vaccine mandates and believe it is a personal choice to get the shot.
Biden, speaking at the White House, portrayed it as a huge victory even though it will be of limited practical value months after the vaccination received emergency approval.
Even so, he spoke directly to what he said were ‘millions’ of Americans who may have been waiting for full approval before trusting the jab – even though the shots have been going in arms since December 2020.
‘It has now happened,’ Biden said. ‘The moment you’ve been waiting for is here. It’s time for you go get your vaccine.
‘Get it today.’
Joe Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated amid FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine
After delivering his good news on vaccinations, Biden headed straight for the exit ignoring questions about Afghanistan
The FDA announcement was a welcome bit of good news for an administration that has been battered by weeks of negative headlines and remains under intense pressure as the clock runs down on the president’s August 31 deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan
He pointed to a pickup in the pace of vaccinations amid a spike in hospitalizations and deaths among the unvaccinated.
‘The FDA approval is the gold standard,’ Biden said, amid information showing about a third of eligible Americans have declined to get the vaccine.
Dorit Reiss, a professor of law at UC Hastings College of the Law, told CNBC that firms may have felt wary of implementing full vaccine mandates until the shot got approval, even though they had the legal authority.
But he also avoided the issue that is provoking still unanswered questions, declining to respond to reporters who shouted questions about the crowded scenes at Kabul airport.
Among the questions he didn’t take: How many Americans are still stuck in the country, as the U.S. military provides security in a tense situation, with Afghan forces manning security checkpoints.
With Biden walking away from shouted questions on Afghanistan, he left it to his national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, and his press secretary to field questions later in the day.
Sullivan deflected questions about whether U.S. troops would stay beyond an August 31 deadline after the Taliban said they were not willing to consider an extension.
‘We are in talks with the Taliban on a daily basis through both political and security channels, I’m not going to get into the details of those discussions here to protect those discussions, which are covering a wide range of issues,’ he said in the White House briefing room.
That left the president to talk up progress on COVID-19.
Biden touted the 71 per cent vaccination rate, and even noted an uptick in shots in hard hit Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
He also sought a silver lining in the reduced death rate amid the campaign to push out vaccines, saying the death rate is ‘still 70 percent lower than it was last winter.’
And he used the moment to urge private companies to issue vaccination mandates for staff.
‘As I mentioned before, I’ve imposed vaccination requirements that will reach millions of Americans,’ he said.
‘Today I’m calling on more companies … 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, state or local leader, who has been waiting for FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that, require it.’
The administration already requires federal employees and onsite contractors to attest that they are vaccinated or if they are unvaccinated to submit to regular testing.
He spoke soon after the Pentagon announced it would press ahead with moves to order personnel to be vaccinated following full approval of the Pfizer shot.
‘We’re going to move forward making that vaccine mandatory, we’re preparing the guidance for the force right now,’ he said during a news briefing.
Earlier, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for those aged 16 and older on Monday. The two-dose regimen was the first to receive emergency use authorization from federal regulators in December 2020 and will now be first to be licensed.
Pfizer said on Monday the vaccine will continue to be available for 12-to-15-year-olds and as third doses for immunocompromised people under emergency use only.
On Monday Dr Anthony Fauci backtracked on his claim the US will ‘get control’ of the coronavirus pandemic by the fall of 2022, saying he ‘misspoke’ and the country can actually beat the COVID-19 by spring next year.
After apologizing for his latest gaffe, the top infectious disease expert caused further confusion by warning there is ‘no guarantee’ the spring deadline will be met if not enough people get vaccinated and another variant develops.
The director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Anderson Cooper on CNN Monday evening that COVID was a ‘a very wily virus’ that could ‘linger on’ if more people did not get vaccinated.
Fauci, who is Biden’s chief medical advisor, had told NPR that coronavirus would still be a problem by next fall.
Just hours later, Fauci flip-flopped on the deadline when questioned on ‘Anderson Cooper 360,’ telling the host the error was ‘my bad’.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (right) told Anderson Cooper (left) on CNN Monday evening that COVID was a ‘a very wily virus’ that could drag on if more people did not get vaccinated
“It’s up to us,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci of the effort to control the Covid virus.
“If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on, leading to the development of another variant which could complicate things.” pic.twitter.com/pIQv3ilAom
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 24, 2021
Fauci clarified: ‘I have to apologize… I meant to say the spring of 2022, so I did misspeak.
He added: ‘If we can get through this winter and get the overwhelming majority of the 90 million people who have not been vaccinated, vaccinated, I hope we could start to get some good control in the spring of 2022. I didn’t mean the fall. I misspoke, my bad.’
The White House COVID tsar said ‘control’ of the virus would come from the ‘overwhelming majority’ of the population getting the vaccine, including those who have already been infected with the coronavirus.
‘If we can do that with the people who have been infected, get them revaccinated, the people who are unvaccinated now, that 90 million people… I think we can get a degree of overall blanket protection of the community.’