May 12, 2021
Joe Biden COVID-19 Update Speech Transcript May 12
President Joe Biden gave a briefing update on COVID-19 and vaccine distribution on May 12, 2021. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Joe Biden: (00:02)
Tomorrow we’ll cross 250 million vaccine shots administered since I took office. I think it’s a pretty consequential achievement for the nation. I promised. I’d keep you up to date every 50 million shots. Today I have an important update. Last week, I launched a new phase of our vaccination program. At that time, I set two new goals for our country. The first was getting 70% of adults their first shot by July the fourth. The second was having 160 million Americans of all ages, fully vaccinated by that same date. I’m pleased to report we’ve made strong progress on the adult vaccination efforts in just the past a few days, by making it easier than ever to get vaccinated. You can visit vaccine.gov or text your zip code to four, three, eight, eight, two, nine to find a vaccination site near you.
Joe Biden: (01:08)
And we’re also opened up thousands of federal pharmacy sites to vaccinations without appointment, so people can just walk up and get the shot. Now, more employers than ever are giving people time off as well to get their shots. More grocery and retail stores and sports teams are providing discounts and promotions to encourage customers and fans to get vaccinated. I talked to a bunch of governors yesterday. One of the governor of Maine points out that if you’re a hunter or a fisherman in Maine and you want to get a license, no problem, you don’t have to pay for it if you get your vaccination shot at the same time you get your license. The whole point is there’s a lot more convenient places for people to get their vaccine shot.
Joe Biden: (01:56)
From May 24th to July 4th, Uber and Lyft, and I think is incredibly generous of them are going to offer everyone in America free rides to and from vaccination sites. So go online, find out where the vaccination site is. Call or Uber or Lyft. They will take you there, wait for you and take you back. As a result, even though more than half of the adults in the country have already gotten their first shot, we have fewer people who need to be vaccinated than ever before. And we’re actually seeing a slight increase in the pace of vaccinations across the past week. And we’re now on track to 60% of adults with at least one shot by next week.
Joe Biden: (02:40)
We still have a lot of work to do to get the adult vaccination rate to 70%, but I believe we’re going to get there. So today I want to talk about an exciting new development. When I spoke last week, I said we were hoping to soon add a new elements for our vaccination program. Vaccinations for adolescents ages 12 and older. And then on Monday after rigorous thorough review, the food and drug administration, the FDA authorized Pfizer vaccine for use in that age category, 12 and up. Today and independent advisory committee to the center for disease control and prevention. The CDC voted to recommended use. Now pending the CDCs final approval later today, we’re going to have for the first time is safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents over the 12 years of age. This is one more giant step on our fight against the pandemic.
Joe Biden: (03:41)
I sincerely think the scientists, researchers and clinical trial participants deserve our thanks. They’ve all made this possible. Because of them nearly 17 million more Americans are eligible to get vaccinated. And now I encourage each of them and their parents to get their vaccinations shots right away, and here’s why. We know that kids at this age, 12 and above, are at risk from COVID-19. About three million COVID-19 cases have been reported in kids under 17 years of age. And teenagers can spread it to their friends, to their siblings, to their parents and to their grandparents. Now that vaccine is authorized for ages 12 and up, and I encourage their parents to make sure they get the shot. As I promised last week, we’re ready. This new population is going to find the vaccine rollout fast and efficient. As of tomorrow, more than 15,000 pharmacies across this country will be ready to vaccinate this age group.
Joe Biden: (04:48)
Most of these pharmacies are close to family as their family home as the kids’ school is to their family home. We’re also going to be getting vaccines to pediatricians and family doctors. So parents and children can talk to their doctors who they trust about getting the vaccination, and they’ll be able to do it at that office. We’re also partnering with school-based clinics and community health centers. Of course, we remain focused on equity in our vaccine program. The vaccine is free for everyone, free. Additionally, if teen’s are on the move this summer, they can get their first shot in one place and the second shot elsewhere. And at the same time, we’re also launching an important public education campaign. First and foremost, we’re providing families with trusted medical information they need to make informed decisions about the vaccination and the vaccine.
Joe Biden: (05:45)
Our medical and scientific experts at CDC and the National Institute of Health will be out there in the public every day to answer questions and get the facts out. We will also be partnering with the healthcare providers, schools, community organizations, states, and tribes and cities at the same time. The bottom line is this. The vaccine for kids between the ages of 12 and 15 are safe, effective, easy, fast, and free. So my hope is that parents will take advantage of the vaccine and get their kids vaccinated. And let’s remember that millions of 16 and 17 year olds have also been safely vaccinated. And as more and more Americans get vaccinated, COVID-19 hospitalizations and death rates continue to fall.
Joe Biden: (06:35)
Today, The New York Times reported the number of COVID hospitalizations in the United States since April of 2020, right after the start of this pandemic, the lowest. Safe and effective vaccines are curbing the spread of the virus. And they’re saving thousands of lives and allowing millions of Americans to start returning to a closer to normal life. As I said earlier, for everyone 12 years and up, it’s never been easier or more convenient to get vaccinated, visit vaccine.gov to find out where or text your zip code to four, three, eight, eight, two, nine. That is a four, three, eight, eight, two, nine. Text your zip code that number. And you’ll find the closest vaccine facilities to you as that moment. It’s easy, it’s convenient and it’s free.
Joe Biden: (07:35)
So if you haven’t gotten vaccinated or still have questions, talk to someone you trust. Your physician, your pharmacist, your next door neighbor who got the shot. Talk to your faith leaders. Look at the folks in your community who’ve gotten vaccinated and are getting back to living their lives. The grandparents united with their grandkids, friends getting together again. I’ve been saying this for a long time, but I believe it. This is not a democratic or republican issue. This is about life and death. It’s about getting us closer to normal. Let me conclude with this. In light of the end, that we’ve been talking about, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, it’s growing brighter and brighter. And we need all of you to bring it home. Americans ages 12 and up get vaccinated. And July 4th, let’s celebrate our independence as a nation and our independence from this virus.
Joe Biden: (08:34)
We can do this. And as I said a little bit earlier day in another context, I don’t believe that the American people, there’s any significant portion of American people who refuse to get vaccinated. You keep hearing about how republicans won’t and this… Look, if it’s available, if it’s nearby, if it’s convenient, people are getting vaccinated. I believe the vast majority of Americans are going to get vaccinated. That’s the route we’re going now. So may God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. And if you’re going to be vaccinated, you don’t have to wear this outside around people, unless there’s really large groups. And you don’t have to wear it inside if you’re with people that have also been vaccinated. So protect yourself, protect your neighbors. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Speaker 2: (09:21)
Mr. President, what do you say to Americans who are worried about the supply of gas and rising prices right now?
Joe Biden: (09:29)
We have been in very, very close contact with Colonial Pipeline, which is the one area you’re talking about, where one of the reasons that gasoline prices are going up. And I think you’re going to hear some good news in the next 24 hours. And I think we’ll be getting that under control. Secondly, I have in the meantime, made it easier for us to have lifted some of the restrictions on the transportation of fuel, as well as access to the United States military, providing fuel and with vehicles to get it there, places where it’s badly needed. And I’d also point out that I think what this shows is that I think we have to make a greater investment and education as it relates to being able to train and graduate more people proficient in cybersecurity. And I’ve been saying for a long, long time. Now I know you could probably say it for me, but I think that one of the most important things we have to do to reclaim our place as a leading innovator in the world is to have a better educated workforce.
Joe Biden: (10:55)
And that goes back to the days long time ago now, or five years ago now when I was vice president and I surveyed all the fortune 500 companies. Said, What do you most need?” And remember what they said, “Better educated workforce.” But they’re not spending money to educate the workforce. But it’s important that we do this, and the cybersecurity piece is one I think you’re going to see where we need significantly larger number of experts in the area of cybersecurity, working for private companies, as well as private companies, being willing to share data as to how they’re protecting themselves. I think that’s part of the long-term answer, not just in terms of energy, but across the board. I know that’s not a direct response to your question, but it does impact on it I think down the road.
Speaker 3: (11:47)
On Israel, sir, your thoughts on Israel? [crosstalk 00:11:50].
Speaker 4: (11:49)
Mr. President, are you concerned about the violence in the middle east, and can you talk about what conversations you have had with official’s their?
Joe Biden: (11:57)
My NASA security staff and defense staff has been in constant contact with our counterparts in the middle east, not just with the Israelis, but also with everyone from the Egyptians and the Saudis to the Mauritian’s, et cetera. And I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago. I’ll be putting out a statement very shortly on that. My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory. But I had a conversation for a while with the prime minister of Israel. And I think that my hope is that we’ll see this coming to conclusion sooner than later. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (12:50)
What the take on the end of your meeting, sir? Were you optimistic coming out of it today?
Joe Biden: (12:56)
Which one of the 12 I’ve had?
Speaker 3: (12:59)
Pelosi, Schumer and the crew.
Speaker 5: (13:01)
Infrastructure, sir. And in particular-
Joe Biden: (13:03)
You guys are bad. I’m not supposed to be answering all these questions. I’m supposed to leave, but I can’t resist your questions. I came away encouraged, but I want to make it clear to you. I’m encouraged, not just because of a solid meeting with the republican leader in the house and with Mitch or Senator McConnell, who I’ve known a long, long time, I work with. I’ve been meeting with bipartisan leaders for a long time now. I’ve met with, gosh knows how many. I mean, and there’s more than one single group. There’s bipartisan groups and made up of 10 to 20 members. There’s been groups that I met with. For example, I met with yesterday with Kyrsten Sinema. I thought that was a… And she purported and I believe her to speak for some of her friends who are both sides of the aisle about how to go forward with infrastructure.
Joe Biden: (14:10)
So generically, I’m encouraged that there’s room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that solid and significant. And a means by which to pay for it without dropping all of the burden on middle-class and working class people. Look, what’s the one thing people are concerned about with the gas? Gasoline prices going up, exactly right. And it matters if you make $40,000 a year. It matters if you’re two family person making 80, $90,000 two wage earners. It matters. And what I don’t want to do, and this will be another discussion, we didn’t get into today, is how to pay for it. And if everything is paid for by a user fee, well then the burden falls on working class folks who are having trouble. We’re getting them out of… They’re coming around, but this has to be a burden shared across the spectrum. Anyway, thank you guys.
Speaker 3: (15:22)
Should Americans be worried about inflation, sir?
Speaker 6: (15:46)
Okay, guys. Thank you.
Speaker 7: (15:46)
Speaker 8: (15:46)
That’s it. [crosstalk 00:15:46].
Speaker 6: (15:46)
No. We’re going to go [inaudible 00:15:46] [crosstalk 00:15:46] yeah.
Speaker 8: (15:46)
I’m out. [crosstalk 00:15:46].
Speaker 3: (15:46)
Did okay, huh?
Speaker 9: (15:46)
Speaker 3: (15:46)
I think we did okay.